FREDDIE Burns is braced to bid a tearful final farewell to Gloucester as he pulls on the cherry and white jersey for the last time today.
The maverick fly-half has spent the last five seasons at Kingsholm, making 126 appearances and amassing 1,009 points ahead of the final-day derby with Worcester Warriors.
He will join Leicester Tigers in the summer, in a bid to enhance his international credentials, but he is desperate to finish his Gloucester career on a positive note following an emotional week of lasts.
Burns said: “It’s hugely important to me that we finish on a high.
“Last weekend there were huge emotional drivers with it being at Kingsholm and I wanted to pay back the support shown to me by the fans - now it’s important we do the same at Sixways.
“It’s been a strange week, finishing training on Thursday and realising that is the last time I will train and drive out of Hartpury with the boys.
“It was weird and the same at Kingsholm on Saturday, walking into an empty changing room to pick up my bag and just standing there.
“It was a really emotional day, especially the lap of honour at the end which forced a few tears.
“I mean it when I say the support at Gloucester has been great and that was one of the hardest things when I decided to leave.
“I will always be thankful for their support and I’m looking forward to coming back and getting some stick from them, which I expect.”
Burns has already experienced elements of the Kingsholm crowd turning on him following his decision to quit the Cherry and Whites and an alarming loss of form.
But on the whole the support has rallied behind the 23-year-old and he demonstrated his gratitude by remaining on the Kingsholm turf long after full-time last Saturday to ensure he could thank every well-wisher.
He said: “I always try to stay out and interact with the fans.
“They have given me so much and I have so many good memories with them.
“There have been some bad ones as well, but I wanted to stay out there and show my respect for the supporters by thanking them personally.
“I got a little bit of abuse as well and that’s part and parcel of it, but in general the crowd have always been great and I will always be thankful for that.”
Having been stuck in the 900s for several weeks, Burns finally surpassed the 1,000 point landmark for Gloucester against the Exiles.
His frustration was clear as he missed his first three shots at goal and kicked his tee in anger.
But the England hopeful re-gathered his composure and expertly slotted three penalties and a conversion.
And he admits crossing the 1,000-point barrier will be something he can look back on with a smile following what has been a difficult season both personally and collectively.
He said: “To get to 1,000 is a great honour and something I will look back on and be proud of.
“I knew I was there or thereabouts for a while, people say you don’t look at it but it does play on your mind. I would be lying after missing the first three kicks that it wasn’t in the back of my mind.
“But it’s a great milestone to reach and I can look back on my time at Gloucester with fond memories, knowing that I have accomplished something having played 100 games and scored 1,000 points.”
With Worcester consigned to the Championship and Gloucester languishing in eighth there is little for either side to play for but pride at Sixways.
Burns spent several seasons playing under Worcester coaches Dean Ryan (inset) and Carl Hogg during their tenures at Kingsholm and he has little doubt they will have the basement boys firing on all cylinders.
He will go head-to-head with former Gloucester fly-half Ryan Lamb, who he views as a major threat, but he is determined to steal the show and bid farewell in fitting fashion.
Burns added: “It was emotional last week and it will be the same pulling on the jersey for the last time on Saturday.
“It’s a local derby and while it’s the end of the season we really want to push on and sign off with a win at Worcester.
“I’m looking forward to the next chapter but I want to finish this one off on a positive note first.
“Dean and Hoggy will have them fired up. They have already been relegated but they have been in some tight games and been really unlucky.
“I have been in contact with Hoggy throughout the year, just as friends, and you see how close they have been.
“It would be slightly different if they were still fighting relegation but either way they will still come out all guns blazing. Technically both teams have nothing to play for but pride and it’s a local derby.
“This weekend will suit Lamby a lot with the style he likes, having a free license to go out and play. When he’s on form there are not many players as good as him in terms of his passing and attacking game.
“He’s definitely a threat and someone we have to be wary of but hopefully we can perform well as a team and nullify that.
“It’s so important we finish the season on a high both collectively and as individuals.