He might prefer to be in the boots of Reivers' counterpart Graham Dall on taking over his team's captaincy this weekend, but Scotland hooker Gordon Bulloch remains confident that Glasgow Caledonian Reds can turn things round over the next week.

On the face of it their schedule could hardly be less appetising following humiliating defeats by Munster and Caerphilly.

Depleted by injury, they face three matches in six days against sides they should beat, starting with tomorrow's visit by the team most heavily tipped to be relegated this season, Cross Keys.

''Nine points from these three matches can be achieved,'' said Bulloch. ''All that's needed is a bit of belief and some hard work.''

The latter has been put in already this week, their coach having explained that the talking has been kept to a minimum.

''We looked at areas where they let themselves down, but worked on them on the training field,'' said Richie Dixon.

On taking over the captaincy, though, Bulloch makes it clear that the answers can only come from deep within the players themselves.

''We've been through a very difficult week. A lot has been said and a lot has been written about us and we have to try to make a positive out of that,'' he said.

''The guys are starting to wise up, though, and I see a change in the way the team is approaching this match. Sometimes you can forget how hard it is to win, what you need to do and how much it is going to hurt.''

Injuries may partly explain it, but it is perhaps significant that changes to the pack are minimal, Dixon declaring himself satisfied with their efforts in the set-piece at least at Caerphilly.

The only forward brought in is international back-row man Gordon Simpson, who is more accustomed to playing at open-side flanker than Gareth Flockhart and who scored his side's only try after coming on last week.

At full-back, Mark McKenzie's introduction is largely enforced, since last week's starter Barry Irving has joined the casualty list.

Though very much a stand-off to trade, McKenzie will be substantially happier at full-back than in his emergency role of scrum-half after both Graham Beveridge, now fully recovered, and Fraser Stott were injured in Caerphilly.

Ian Jardine also picked up a knock there, prompting Dixon to overhaul the midfield with Alan Bulloch, who had been suffering from a thigh injury, having proved his fitness to replace deposed skipper Shepherd and come in alongside Jon Stuart with whom he played regularly last season.

Against opponents who have themselves made sweeping changes, the Reds must not only win but win well, even to begin to redress the damage done to their reputation at Caerphilly.

Cross Keys have made no fewer than 12 changes from the side which fought sturdily against Bridgend for an hour before being overrun in the final quarter.

The club is also coming to terms with the fact that their regular goal-kicker of the past five years Ioan Bebb's career may be over. He required eye surgery following an incident during last weekend's meeting with Bridgend which may yet result in legal proceedings. However they are

making no secret of targeting Tuesday's meeting with Ebbw Vale as a match they are likelier to win. ''We don't honestly believe the Reds can play as badly again,'' said spokesman Colin Vernall.

''Their result against Caerphilly is not a true reflection of what they are capable of, so we expect a backlash on Sunday.''

That only makes defeat all the more unthinkable, but Dixon believes a more clinical approach will see them do the necessary throughout the coming week.

''It is a hard call, but nine points are what we have to aim for from these three matches,'' he said of the visits of Cross Keys and Neath (on Friday at Hughenden) which sandwich Tuesday's trip to

Bridgend. ''If they play to their potential they can get back on track. The players let themselves down with the little things last week and maybe there was some anxiety. This game is now very, very important, they have reacted very well. They have to understand, though, that they are judged only by their performances on

the pitch.''

Looking longer term, the Reds have strengthened their squad by recruiting Scotland under-21 centre Andy Henderson on apprentice terms. The player, whose decision to leave West of Scotland upset the Burnbrae club, joined Glasgow Hawks earlier this week and he will play most of his rugby with them this season.