GLOUCESTER Rugby rookie Ryan Mills might see his long-term future at centre but the 20-year-old admits playing No.10 in the LV= Cup following Freddie Burns’ injury has been a huge eye-opener, writes Samuel Wakefield.
Mills made his return to rugby at fly half against Northampton Saints after more than 200 days out following surgery on his knee in August and converted his own try in the 26-7 defeat.
Regular fly half Burns is expected to be missing for the next two weeks, while also being involved in Six Nations duty, which has opened up a spot for Mills.
The highly-rated youngster insists he is determined to use any chance to convince coach Nigel Davies of his abilities to play Aviva Premiership rugby – and performing consistently in an unfamiliar position could be just the ticket.
“It is all about staying in the coaches' mind because I have been out for a long time and as they haven’t really seen me play I need to show them what I am all about,” he said.
“It almost feels like I have moved clubs so I’m just happy to get out on the pitch. I feel pretty comfortable at fly half and I’m still learning my position, but I enjoy 12 the most.
“But playing there helps me understand the game better. I know what it feels like to play there and I know what they want the centres to do and what to focus on.
“So if I move back I will know when they want to hear me and when they don’t so it is really valuable and just getting game time will help me get back to being sharp.”
Gloucester can go no further in the LV= Cup after their defeat to Northampton scuppered their chances, but with Bath Rugby up next in a West Country derby pride is very much at stake.
And Mills, who slotted the winning penalty in February’s Aviva Premiership win, is champing at the bit to pull on the cherry and white and get stuck into continuing their recent dominance over their rivals, who haven’t tasted victory in the fixture since December, 2009.
“Even though we can’t go through it is still a massive game. If you ask the supporters which matters the most, they would say Bath,” he added.
“I have played in the match a couple of times and they are brilliant, the crowd is always that bit louder and you can even see the older players getting pumped for it.
“It is the perfect match for us mentally because the boys are so up for it – it is a grudge match.”
The LV= Cup. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit www.lv.com/rugby.