Gloucester Rugby: Freddie Burns keen to form a midfield with Ryan Mills
FREDDIE Burns cannot wait to conjure some midfield magic with 'top-class' Gloucester centre Ryan Mills.
Excited fly-half Burns expects to thrive on the Cherry and Whites' breadth and depth of attacking options in the centres.
New England man Burns has elevated his approach to new levels this term, thanks in part to the summer arrival of shrewd playmaker Billy Twelvetrees from Leicester.
Bath-born Burns credits muscular pivot Twelvetrees with helping him round out his game.
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But now the maverick 22-year-old attacking talent believes fit-again Mills can offer just as potent a front-foot threat.
And he is itching to team up with highly-rated 20-year-old Mills in Gloucester's inside backs.
Burns explained: "Millsy is a quality player, top class, and he's shown what he can do at ten, even though that's not his natural position and one he doesn't enjoy playing as much.
"He enjoys playing 12 more, that's his natural position and the one that he knows best.
"But just look at what he can do at ten. He has really stepped up and handled things fantastically in the last month or so.
"He's one of those guys who has time on the ball and is able to pick out exactly the right call and either break himself or bring other players into the game and get them across the gain line."
Surgery to repair a knee defect sidelined Mills from August to January.
The England Under-20s cap has featured in Gloucester's last six clashes since finding fitness, though, drawing praise from all quarters.
Natural centre Mills has had to slot into the fly-half role, with Burns and Twelvetrees both either injured or on England duty, and Tim Taylor out for the season after knee surgery.
Mills replaced Burns in Friday's 31-25 Premiership defeat at Bath, and so far the two men have not combined in Gloucester action this season.
That prospect is surely just a matter of time, though, and it is a thought that has Burns purring about the possibilities.
Hailing Mills' versatility and assurance, Burns continued: "Playing alongside him with him at 12, that would be great.
"I can't wait for that to happen, it's clearly going to at some point soon, and it would be seriously exciting.
"It's been brilliant lining up alongside Billy, because we've gained a huge understanding there this season as we have become accustomed to each other's styles.
"I've said it before, but Billy has really helped me kick on, and I can't praise him enough for how he's settled in and really taken to life at Gloucester."
Finding plenty of similarities between Mills and 24-year-old Twelvetrees, Burns said when he runs through Gloucester's rich backline talent, it feeds him with confidence for a fruitful Kingsholm future.
He added: "Ryan's really pushing Billy and the rest of the boys for that 12 shirt.
"I know Nigel is a big fan of his talents, and it will be great to see how he develops over the next few years, because it's going to be a pretty rapid progression for him, I reckon.
"He's similar to Billy in that he loves the attacking side of the game, he loves the physical stuff.
"He can hit the line hard or he can help others make breaks.
"I think there could be some great attacking rugby in the offing with him in the side.
"When you look at the backline options that Gloucester have got, I firmly believe they are right up there with the best around.
"As everyone gains experience and becomes more comfortably operating in the small units, we're only going to get better and better."