Tindall’s starting over

World Cup winner Mike Tindall has a simple outlook on the new rugby season, admitting: "I am starting all over again from scratch". [more]

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World Cup winner Mike Tindall has a simple outlook on the new rugby season, admitting: "I am starting all over again from scratch".

Given his recent injury history, it is easy to forget Gloucester’s new midfield recruit boasts 41 international caps and started the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

But the stark facts are that he has not played Test or Premiership rugby since November last year, a demoralising nine-month period which also cost him any chance of touring New Zealand with Sir Clive Woodward’s British & Irish Lions.

England missed his presence in the Six Nations, and a fully-fit Tindall strutting his stuff during the early Premiership flurries will be a welcome sight for red rose boss Andy Robinson.

But Tindall knows it is a case of first things first, and all he is currently concentrating on is making an impact with Gloucester after joining them from their fierce west country rivals Bath.

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"I am looking forward to a fresh start at a fresh club that has great ambitions," he said.

"I think the challenge is massive – one of the biggest I have faced. For me, I am starting all over again from scratch.

"I have got to stand up to players and try to impress and influence them. I have to win over the players and coaches in terms of respect, and it’s the same with the fans."

Tindall’s move from Bath became a protracted ‘will he, won’t he’ saga, but as the Yorkshireman continued his recovery from foot, and then shoulder injuries, he ultimately decided to call time on a long Recreation Ground career.

"I needed a fresh start to motivate myself, and for me, there is nothing better than trying to prove a point at a new club," he added.

"I don’t need any motivation to earn my stripes for a new club and stick my body back on the line.

"I loved Bath, and it will always remain dear to my heart because I spent so long there, but I honestly believe I needed a fresh start."

Gloucester, inevitably, are expecting big things from their star newcomer, especially after a frustrating time last season when they drifted from title contention in the Premiership and failed to secure European Cup qualification.

Dean Ryan has now succeeded Nigel Melville in the coaching hot-seat, and will be assisted by former Scotland scrum-half Bryan Redpath, while Tindall, South Africa lock Quinton Davids and France fly-half Ludovic Mercier topped Gloucester’s summer shopping list.

"I am sure that when I get to my first game there will be a few nerves about how the shoulder will hang up, but I only know one way, and that will be forward into as many people as possible," said Tindall.

"The way I play is physical, and that is not something I am shy about or worried about people labelling me.

"It has been so long, I just want to get on the field, get the ball in my hands and play rugby again.

"For a fresh start, I need to be fully fit, and that is what I intend to be."

With England’s opening game of the campaign – against Australia at Twickenham – less than 12 weeks away, Tindall’s progress will be closely monitored by Robinson and his coaching staff.

There are hurdles to be cleared before Tindall can seriously contemplate a Test match return, but Gloucester’s opening four Premiership fixtures – Worcester, Sale Sharks, Bristol and Northampton – should show exactly where he is on the comeback trail.

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