As forwards, we were superbly coached by John Mitchell, he was probably the best forwards coach I ever had. We’d have done anything for him, even run through brick walls.
I remember one training session in New Zealand and there was this old scrummaging/maul machine that was made up of old scaffolding poles with about an inch of padding on them. We all tentatively tried to find a slot to push it across the field and Mitch went mental. ‘You bunch of soft, English w*****, sort your lives out!’ he screamed. ‘This is how I want it done.’ He smashed into it, you could hear bone on metal, and he pushed it six-foot by himself. Then it was our turn to do it properly. You should have seen the bruises on us afterward. He was that kind of bloke: he wouldn’t ask you to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself.
I was chuffed to bits to get my three caps and to get a letter from Roger Uttley when we got back home. His words were, ‘you’ve had a fantastic tour and we hope to see more of you in the future’. Unfortunately, I never heard from Clive Woodward again. Martin Johnson was the future, rightly so, and I wasn’t. He was captain of a fashionable club and I wasn’t. It is what it is.
Gloucester was everything to me. I was born and bred there and lived in the city before moving down to Devon when I joined the Chiefs, aged 31.
It was a hard time when I left Gloucester. I never wanted to play for anyone else but Phillipe Saint-Andre got rid of me. He still couldn’t justify it at the end and it’s still raw now. Myself and Tony Windo asked for a testimonial because we’d both been there 12 years and I got a letter from an official at the club basically saying I didn’t deserve one. It was like a massive knife in the back. To be honest, it destroyed me; I couldn’t believe it, and at the time my dad was dying of cancer, so it was a really bad time. All I wanted to do was to be at Gloucester until I dropped down dead.
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September 06, 2020