Adventures of Sinbad: 'Steady' Freddie, biltong and bad tips
James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
EARLY in Freddie Burns' career, he came on at full-back into a match where we had a big lead.
Desperate to make an impression, you could see straightaway that Fred was trying too hard.
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It's natural in a young player, so keen to stamp their mark on proceedings.
And one of the biggest challenges to anyone starting off is not to force it.
Gloucester won that match with something to spare, but Freddie was upset with himself.
That was a long time ago and the most impressive part of his development into a top-end player is that he has built and built his game steadily.
Now he knows when to try something and when not to.
He has added a massive amount of prudence to his approach, and it has paid huge dividend already this season at Gloucester.
He'll have his England chance against New Zealand this weekend and he fully deserves it.
More than anything I think I'm pleased that there's a real sense of justice in the league's form fly-half getting his opportunity.
I made my debut against the All Blacks, and the occasion was incredible.
Knowing Freddie, he will love every minute.
But he doesn't need any advice from me. He's a supremely confident young man, but he's also pretty grounded.
I'll send him a good luck text, but the reason he has made the squad is because he does not need advice from the likes of me.
Hopefully he'll get out there at some point, and given his current form, if he does he'll be more than fine.
FAMILY MATTERS HELP KEEP ME SANE
EXPERIENCE helps you through injuries.
When I was younger, injuries hit me hard and I would go through a fairly dark ordeal.
But with age and a hopefully a bit of perspective, I’ve got this latest one under control.
I spoke last week about it being impossible to feel sorry for myself, because of the situation of the likes of Alex Brown and Olly Morgan, who are battling longer-term problems.
The other thing keeping me sane is my family.
It is usually my young son George who has the trouble sleeping – but while I’m wearing the sling I’m the one struggling to get comfortable!
I’ll be seeing the doctors again a week tomorrow, and if all goes well I could be out of the sling.
And it’s little milestones like that that you need to check off the list as you go along almost.
I’ll keep setting myself short-term goals, and hopefully that will break up my three to four-month injury lay-off and help it move along pretty quickly.
GLOUCESTER BOYS HAVE GOOD TASTE IN SNACKS
IT’S amazing how science continues to change sport.
More and more data is constantly generated and analysed, with sports clubs and individuals battling for any possible edge.
Obviously we take our diet extremely seriously at Gloucester, and we use a range of supplements among other things that our nutritionists and strength and conditioning team put together.
Sometimes, though, you know these things are doing you good – but they might not taste too great.
And there’s always the temptation to snack, that never goes away I don’t think!
That’s how my brothers Mark and Charlie hit on an idea to create a healthy, natural snack that would suit sportsmen and women – and taste great too.
Kings Biltong is the result, and recently I’ve got on board with the business too.
Mark has now moved out to Newport, New Jersey, so Charlie needed someone to come in and pick up the slack – and I was delighted he chose me.
I didn’t want to push myself forward too obviously, but I was always keen, because I think this is a great initiative.
We had a meeting with Paddy Anson, Gloucester’s strength and conditioning boss, to talk about the biltong, and he was impressed.
Now I might be biased, but not only does it taste great, it is also a very healthy alternative to something like crisps, being high in protein, low in fat.
Paddy was able to give it the green light for the boys at Gloucester to have as a snack, and that’s a big boost for us.
It’s gone down well so far with the boys at Gloucester, and it’s exciting to be involved with a business at this stage, where we can hopefully start to see reactions to the product.
For more information or to order, go to www.kingsbiltong.com or follow @kingsbiltong on twitter.
My tipping form is so shocking that right now I don’t have any option but to stay safe.
I am backing Big Buck’s in Saturday’s 2.35 Sportingbet Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
Paul Nicholls’ star is aiming to win this race for the fourth year in a row – while also lining up his 18th consecutive victory since 2008.
So if he doesn’t win then I haven’t really got anywhere else to go!