'QUALITY' scrum-half Dave Lewis will thrive at Exeter Chiefs next season, believes Gloucester boss Nigel Davies.
Devonian Cherry and Whites half-back Lewis will return to his former club for next term, after six years with the Cherry and Whites.
Gloucester coach Davies conceded he could not offer Lewis the regular rugby he deserves, with All Black Jimmy Cowan and fast-developing Dan Robson on hand at Kingsholm.
Former Wales centre Davies said 23-year-old Lewis has pushed Robson and Cowan all the way for selection every week at Gloucester this term.
Davies understands Lewis' desire for more consistent action, and thinks the sprightly half-back has made the right move.
Robson has agreed a new Gloucester contract, though nothing official has been confirmed.
Lewis' impending departure paves the way for Brad Field to nail down a new Kingsholm deal too.
All Black Cowan's season-ending knee injury means Lewis will play a pivotal role in Gloucester's push for the Premiership play-offs.
Davies said the 88-appearance half-back will prove his potency in that time.
He said: "I firmly believe that Dave Lewis needs to be playing, he's a quality player, but with Jimmy coming in and the way that Dan Robson has been playing it's been difficult for Dave to get starts and opportunities.
"He's had a fair few, but really for the player of his quality it's not enough.
"Sometimes when you have a lot of quality players in one position, that's what happens.
"We wish him all the best, he's been a great servant, a great pro off the field – he brings a lot of research and study to the game – and we wish him well.
"When you get players who are so close in terms of calls for selection it wouldn't be beneficial to him or us.
"As it is, with the injury to Jimmy, he'll play a big part in the rest of our season.
"From his perspective we have no issues with that because it's always been a tight call between all three of them, all season.
"So we know Dave will step up and fight for us.
"And there's every chance Brad Field will have opportunities now.
"He's trained with us throughout, he's a good character himself, he brings a real edge to his game, and we'll have no qualms involving him in Premiership rugby."
Retaining three frontline players in one position is rarely viable, Davies admitted.
He said Gloucester's long-term challenge is to keep producing Academy players who can step up to the mark.
Scrum-half Field joined Gloucester in the summer, on a one-year dual-registration deal with Hartpury College.
And now the gritty 27-year-old could be well-placed for a new Kingsholm deal next term.
Davies added: "It's just the way it is: when I was at the Scarlets, we had Guy Easterby, Dwayne Peel and Mike Phillips all playing, and it was inevitable that we would lose one of them.
"And it's the same here, you can't hold on to three players who are all capable of playing in the first team.
"When their contracts are up, that's certainly the case.
"What we've got to look at now is what comes through behind the two that we've got.
"Part of my remit as director of rugby is to look at succession planning, and where the holes exist and how we fill those gaps moving forward.
"We're not always going to fill those gaps with ready-made players, far from it.
"So we've got to make sure our academy works well for us.
"We'll target certain positions and make that whole system work well for us."
â Captain Jim Hamilton is primed for Gloucester action at Wasps on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
The 30-year-old lock has rejected a rest during the Six Nations' fallow weekend, offering his services to the Cherry and Whites.
Boss Nigel Davies believes the totemic second-row is ready for the challenge.