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Gloucester playmaker Ryan Mills hoping new mentor Freddie Burns can inspire stellar showing against first fly-half guru Nicky Robinson

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Ryan Mills

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RYAN Mills believes his second playmaking mentor can help him put one over his first fly-half guru at Wasps on Sunday.

Injured Freddie Burns has been helping 20-year-old Mills hone his backline-bossing talents at Kingsholm in the last few weeks.

Former Gloucester outside-half Nicky Robinson was the first tactician to lend Mills a guiding hand when it comes to game management.

But now the Welsh wizard forms part of an increasingly robust Wasps line-up.

Sharing fly-half duties in Dai Young's squad with evergreen compatriot Stephen Jones, Robinson continues to pull Wasps' strings and mastermind defence-splitting moves.

Exeter-born England Under-20s graduate Mills admitted he picked Robinson's brain whenever possible during the 31-year-old former Cardiff Blue's two years at Gloucester between 2009 and 2011.

But now he is delighted to have new England cap Burns in his corner, and revealed the Bath-born 22-year-old is shaping his shift from inside centre to fly-half.

With Tim Taylor out for the season with knee cartilage damage, Burns still battling knee ligament trouble and Billy Twelvetrees on England duty, Mills is the main man during the Six Nations.

Relishing the responsibility, Mills admitted controlling Gloucester's backline will be pivotal to his side's chances at Adams Park on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).

He explained: "Both Nicky and Stephen Jones are great players.

"Whichever plays they will pose massive threats to us.

"Nicky was great when he was here, he was a massive influence on the younger guys too.

"It would be nice to play against him or Stephen, to be honest, a great challenge.

"Nicky was great at mentoring the younger guys, he was always available to speak to if there was anything you needed.

"He's a very astute thinker: he has great knowledge of rugby tactics and how to exploit them.

"At ten especially it's all about game management, and that's something I've been trying to get used in the last few weeks, get my head around that and to try to put the team before thinking about just playing, and running and running.

"I'm getting there, and obviously that's a huge part of playing ten.

"With Freddie being injured he's always on hand, he's happy to sit down and talk me through whatever, whenever.

"And the same goes for Tim Taylor too.

"Both those guys have been brilliant.

"They have really helped me get to grips with things, and helped keep my confidence going while I've been getting back up to speed after my injury.

"If you've got someone like Tins playing outside you as well, he's done everything.

"He's one of the most experienced players in the world, probably.

"And it does help a lot having those more experienced guys around you.

"Tins is very calm, he's a very good leader out on the pitch, good at communicating.

"When you're playing ten it helps so much when you've got people talking around you, and he's really good at that."

Wasps have lost just one Premiership match at home in 12 months, 14-10 to Newcastle on May 5, the final day of last season.

The London-based side that play their matches in High Wycombe have bulldozed into the Premiership's top four, winning their last four league contests – including a hugely-impressive 17-16 victory at champions Harlequins last weekend.

Wasps' 26-24 victory against Gloucester at Adams Park on April 1 last season proved a low point in the tail-end of the Bryan Redpath era.

The Cherry and Whites' 10-9 victory on February 13, 2011 remains their only Adams Park win since 2008.

But if Young has whipped Wasps into shape, Mills believes Gloucester's Welsh boss Nigel Davies is having a similar effect with the men from Kingsholm.

Wary of Wasps' quicksilver wings Christian Wade and Tom Varndell, Mills said Gloucester must capitalise on last week's impressive 27-11 Northampton victory.

Hailing Jonny May's strike-move score against the Saints, Mills continued: "We've been working on some new ideas, trying to sharpen up and fine-tune some set moves.

"But even though the move worked well, that was individual brilliance by Jonny.

"Not a lot of people can defend against that, and when you've got someone like that you can use as a strike runner it's perfect for the backline.

"The wings against each other will be really interesting.

"I played with Wade and Elliot Daley in the 20s, and with a few of their forwards as well, so it will be good to go up against them.

"Wasps had a great win over Quins, they've got a lot of momentum.

"With us winning too that's set this game up to be even bigger than it would have been anyway.

"And that makes it easy for you to prepare.

"The big games are the ones where it's easy to prepare for, and the boys are really good at it.

"The way we perform against the top sides, the intent is massive.

"There's no option but to be at your best, and I think that concentrates the minds."

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  • jasonbennett3  |  February 15 2013, 6:43AM

    It is fantastic to have Mills back from injury, just as it is fantastic to have our best and first choice tight head, Rupert Harden, back starting in the scrum as he should be.

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