AGE will be no barrier for 'top performer' Mike Tindall extending his playing contract into next season at Gloucester.
The powerful 34-year-old centre is in line to make his 150th competitive appearance for the Cherry and Whites in tomorrow night's Premiership clash with Worcester at Kingsholm (kick-off 7.45pm).
And The Citizen understands Gloucester are ready to extend Tindall's tenure in Kingsholm's midfield into an eighth year.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies is impressed with how Tindall has handled the transition to his new player-backs coach role this season.
Rugby director Davies believes Tindall is blossoming into an accomplished and astute coach.
But that progression should not accelerate the end of Tindall's decorated and extensive playing career.
This time last season England's most-capped centre was facing the Gloucester exit: now he is once again at the centre of Kingsholm plans, and in line to continue his dual role.
Rating Tindall as one of Gloucester most in-form talents, Davies hailed the World Cup winner's undiminishing Kingsholm commitment.
Davies explained: "It's fabulous in the modern era: to play 150 games is a big landmark.
"And also he's probably playing some of his best rugby at the moment.
"He was fantastic, again, at Wasps at the weekend, backing up a big performance against Northampton.
"What you don't always see as well is the influence that he has on the team.
"His presence, his knowledge and how the group look up to him.
"So he's been fabulous as far as I'm concerned, a real bonus, and he's developing into an excellent coach as well.
"You can't fault him really, his form is excellent, and he's as fit as anybody in the squad.
"And age is not really relevant when you are that fit.
"And more importantly, he's hungry, and when players are hungry, they perform.
"He wants to keep playing, he's enjoying his rugby, he's enjoying his role within the group, and he's one of our top performers at the moment."
Tindall's resurgence this season is at stark odds with his situation at the tail-end of last term.
Surplus to requirements under Bryan Redpath, Tindall was desperate to stay at Gloucester – but seemed unable to convince his employers to offer him a new contract.
Despite talks with Stade Francais and several other clubs though, Tindall held out for what he really wanted most – a new deal at Kingsholm.
The former Bath centre knew he was taking a risk in letting other offers pass his by.
But then Redpath left for Sale Sharks, new boss Davies arrived from Llanelli Scarlets – and everything changed.
Redpath had worked with a small coaching team, initially just himself and Carl Hogg, before John Brain was brought in to help with recruitment and handle the technical scrum work.
The manner of the fallout at the end of Redpath's tenure stiffened Gloucester's resolve to bolster their coaching line-up – and Davies' vision for a revamped Kingsholm set-up fitted that ambition perfectly.
Davies made Tindall the first addition to his expanded coaching team, also retaining his services as a player to aid continuity within the squad.
After retaining Carl Hogg too, Davies added Paul Moriarty and Tony Windo to his main coaching line-up.
Tindall might have been expected to ease his playing workload in favour of his new coaching job.
But the gritty operator's form, injuries to the likes of Henry Trinder and Ryan Mills and Billy Twelvetrees' England promotion have all conspired to keep Tindall at the forefront of Gloucester's midfield.
When Gloucester continue their battle to edge into the Premiership's top four against local rivals Worcester tomorrow, Davies will be pleased he can still call on Tindall.
Davies added: "Probably one of the first jobs I did when got here was to speak to Mike.
"I was aware he didn't have a contract and that he wanted to stay.
"So we had a few conversations, and it was clear in my view at that time that we needed to hold onto him for lots of different reasons.
"And thankfully as I thought it's proved the right decision."