FIT-AGAIN Freddie Burns is itching to put one over hometown club Bath, believes Nigel Davies.
Fly-half Burns will return for the Cherry and Whites in tomorrow night’s West Country derby at The Recreation Ground (kick-off 8pm), with boss Davies impressed by his form in training.
The 22-year-old England playmaker has not played since damaging knee ligaments in Gloucester’s 36-16 Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Mont de Marsan at Kingsholm on January 19.
But now he is raring to get back to action, and has timed his return perfectly for the crucial Premiership clash against Gloucester’s bitter rivals.
Gloucester’s medical staff held him back from last weekend’s 29-23 Worcester victory, even though the man himself felt he was fit enough to play.
A week’s extra recovery will do him the world of good though, believes rugby director Davies.
He explained: “Last week was just slightly too soon for Freddie, but fair play, he kicked everything in training and was running around all over the place.
“The medics said the Worcester game was just too soon for him, so we held him back.
“He probably would have played, because that’s what he’s like.
“But he has definitely benefitted from this extra preparation time, and now he’s ready to get firing on all cylinders.
“England have been keen to see him prove his fitness in this game, but Freddie won’t be fussed by that – he knows what this game is all about, and the club is all he can think about this weekend.”
Mike Tindall missed out on his 150th competitive Gloucester appearance at the very last minute against Worcester on Friday.
A hip problem laid him low at the tail-end of the warm-up.
Fit to start tomorrow’s clash then, Davies thinks it is fitting Tindall’s milestone comes against his first and only former club.
Admitting the old-man jibes have been wheeled out given 34-year-old Tindall’s elder statesman status at Kingsholm, Davies added: “A hip problem is a proper old man’s injury isn’t it!
“I’m sure Mike’s had a bit of banter about that, but all joking aside he’s been in absolutely great form, some of his best for three or four years in recent weeks.
“And it’s great to have him fit and ready to go, hopefully it’s going to be a special night – but we know we’ve got to graft incredibly hard to make that the case.”
BATH: N Abendanon, H Agulla, M Banahan, K Eastmond, T Biggs, T Heathcote, P Stringer, P James, R Webber, D Wilson, D Day, D Attwood, F Louw (capt), C Fearns, B Skirving. Replacements: R Batty, N Catt, A Perenise, W Spencer, M Gilbert, M Claassens, S Vesty, S Rokoduguni.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall (capt), J May, F Burns, D Robson, N Wood, D Dawidiuk, R Harden, L Lokotui, W James, T Savage, A Qera, S Kalamafoni. Replacements: H Edmonds, D Murphy, D Chistolini, P Buxton, A Hazell, D Lewis, R Mills, M Thomas.