Gloucester Rugby head coach Johan Ackermann is remaining optimistic about his side’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup, despite the English club lying bottom of Pool 2. 

The South African says the Cherry and Whites still want to be part of the competition but accepts their 17-29 defeat to Exeter Chiefs in Round 4 was “a bit of a blow”. 

“It’s going to be challenging for us now to be involved, but we’ll take it when we get to that next hurdle with Munster at home and see where we are, and reassess what we need to do,” Ackermann told Gloucestershire Live. 

“I think as long as Munster are doing their bit and keep winning, it’s going to be hard to catch them.  

“It was a bit of a blow, because we took a lot of confidence after Round 3 and were not there [in Round 4]. 

“We still want to be part of this tournament in terms of being competitive and a lot can happen, so we’ll see what happens in that game and see where the lock is. But the reality is we’ve let this one slip. It’s gone and we can’t change it.” 

Gloucester host Munster Rugby in Round 5 on Friday January 11 under the Kingsholm Stadium lights and travel to Castres Olympique eight days later. 

Gloucester captain Willi Heinz echoed his head coach’s thoughts and believes his side have let an “opportunity slip” to reach their first quarter-final in Europe’s elite club competition since 2008. 

“It is tough, but we want to be playing these games and there’s a real sense of frustration and letting an opportunity slip, because we were super-excited about playing back at Kingsholm in front of our people and pushing forward in Europe,” the scrum-half told Gloucester’s website. 

“We still have a lot to play for. We’re back in Europe after the Christmas period, loads of big games for us.”