Gloucester Rugby: Freddie Burns makes a case for defence
LIVEWIRE playmaker Freddie Burns believes defence coach Paul Moriarty will add a bit of dog to his dangerous attacking game.
Maverick Gloucester fly-half Burns loves to take teams on with the ball in hand – but knows the importance of aggressive and accurate defence too.
And the 22-year-old believes the Cherry and Whites' new defensive tsar Moriarty can help whip him into bullish rearguard shape.
Moriarty left Newcastle Falcons in the summer and joined Nigel Davies' new-look Gloucester set-up.
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The former Swansea RFC stalwart had stints in Rugby League with Halifax and Widnes, and was a dual-code Welsh international.
The 48-year-old joined Llanelli Scarlets' coaching staff when Welsh rugby was regionalised in 2003, and worked alongside Davies.
Now the two friends are colleagues again, and Burns is impressed by Gloucester's new coaching line-up.
Burns explained: "Everything's fresh now and it feels exciting.
"Paul Moriarty has come in and made a good impact, having that specific defence coach will hopefully make a difference.
"We weren't lacking anything in terms of defence training last year, but another voice and another view will definitely help.
"I think it will definitely help me improve too.
"I think people who know me and how I play know I won't shirk a tackle or any defensive duty, so if I see someone who is 40kgs heavier than me I think if I run at them 100miles an hour they might go down.
"So sometimes I might get myself on the wrong side or in a bad position and that's obviously something to keep working on to cut out.
"Paul's going to help my defence, and that will definitely add strings to my bow.
"I want to be a stronger player and a more rounded player, and so I'll definitely be working closely with Paul to that end."
Burns looked sharp in JP Morgan Sevens action at the start of pre-season, only to suffer a knee injury.
Frustrated to have missed several vital weeks' preparation, Burns returned in Saturday's 54-9 Doncaster victory –but admitted he must sharpen up for tomorrow's Premiership opener against Northampton.
Gloucester host the Saints at Kingsholm tomorrow (kick-off 3pm), with Burns confident the home side can step up through the gears after pre-season.
He continued: "It was frustrating to have a new coach, new systems, new players – and then not to have the chance to get those combinations working slightly earlier.
"I'd hardly played with Dan Robson before, and only played once with Billy in the Saxons.
"We did grow into the game against Doncaster, but hopefully we can build on that now.
"I missed out on a bit of the training because of the injury, and a bit of that clarity went.
"I found myself umming and ahhing a bit in the first 20 minutes, but we ground them out well in the end.
"Wednesday and Friday last week were two quite frustrating training sessions, it was quite hard for me to get a grasp of what I was trying to get out of it.
"But this week has been totally different, I've had a few good days and I'm raring to go now.
"It's almost just ticking that box when you're coming back from injury, getting back into it and getting back up to speed.
"That's out of the way now, so there's no excuses.
"It's just getting on the same wavelength as the other boys, getting the calls back – because of a new system.
"So it's getting them back to second-nature, just to pluck them out of the top of your head.
"There were a few wrong decisions or calls that affected training last week, but it's all sorted now."
Nine months to the day since Burns' close friend Lee Audis was seriously injured in a car accident, the former Bath and Doncaster scrum-half was at Kingsholm to see his old side take on the Cherry and Whites.
Burns said Audis is making good progress in his long-term recovery, after initially being in an induced coma after the accident.
Burns added: "It was nine months to the day since his accident, and his first day trip out.
"Once I saw Doncaster on the fixture list I thought it would be a good chance.
"I think he had a really good day, he got to interact a lot more than he does at the hospital and he actually had his first night at home afterwards too.
"He's still very much in the rehabilitation stage, he's had operations on his legs.
"He should be coming out of the casts soon, and then they will be able to start determining how much progress he will be able to make, whether he will be able to walk.
"But if he keeps progressing the way he has done so far, he will be absolutely fine – he's been smashing all the targets they have set for him so far.
"It's important we don't get carried away but he's definitely going in the right direction."