Gloucester Rugby: Freddie Burns is ready to take the heat
PREMIERSHIP player of the month Freddie Burns will be excited if teams single him out as a target after his impressive start to the new campaign.
The 22-year-old Gloucester fly-half landed October's player of the month award yesterday, but quickly passed the plaudits on to his team-mates.
Enthused by the challenge of opponents working extra hard to nullify his threat, Burns is ready to adapt his approach to keep rival teams and defences guessing.
Revealing he still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, the attack-minded playmaker said Gloucester's adaptability has been a feature of their success so far under new boss Nigel Davies.
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Calling on Gloucester to leave the Bryan Redpath sideshow to the supporters against Sale Sharks at Kingsholm today (noon kick-off), Burns explained: "I think it makes it more exciting if teams or opponents try to shut you down.
"I think you've got to adapt your game, and that's another thing with Gloucester this year, the way we've been able to adapt to different situations.
"The weather this weekend, you don't know what's going to happen there, so you've got to react to that.
"But individually, if people are trying to suss me out, that excites me because then I can always just change my game up and bring something new.
"I'm working week on week on adapting my game, expanding my game, and if people want to come after me then it frees up space for boys elsewhere.
"So I'm more than happy to take a bit of heat on a Saturday afternoon.
"It's credit to Nigel and the coaching staff. They've put a gameplan in place that allows us to adapt and it allows us to go if it's on to play, or shut up shop and play safe if we need to as well.
"We've got a freedom to adapt to different situations and that's great." Rejecting any notion of points-scoring against former boss Redpath today, Burns said he expects the Gloucester fans to be in just as fine voice as ever.
Redpath swapped Gloucester for Sale in the summer, but the Sharks have endured a torrid start to the new term.
First forwards coach Steve Scott was sacked, then Redpath was demoted from rugby director to head coach.
Chief executive Steve Diamond remains in charge of first team affairs, while ex-All Blacks forwards coach John Mitchell is still in the frame to join the club permanently.
He resigned from his head coach role at the Golden Lions yesterday, paving the way to completing his protracted move to North West club Sale.
Expecting a tough test today, Burns said the Redpath saga will not colour the Gloucester side's approach.
He continued: "I don't think you need to give too much more excitement to the crowd at Gloucester.
"They will have their opinions and I'm sure they'll express them.
"But we're a new squad and a new team and we've got bigger goals than getting one over on an old coach, and that's not our objective anyway.
"Brushy gave a lot of people, including myself, the opportunity to play. He's a good coach and he had a good three years or so here.
"But things move on and we just get on with it.
"We had two or three good years under Brushy, winning the LV=Cup and making the play-offs.
"Things didn't work out at the end of last year and his run at Gloucester ran its course.
"And to be honest I haven't really thought about that or about Brushy since he left.
"We're focused on what Gloucester can be as a team, and what little sideshows there are. The crowd can hype them up and do what they want with them.
"But we're there to play rugby, and that's what this weekend's all about.
"Times change and now we've got Nigel in charge, the squad's a lot different, the team ethos is different and the whole club's a different place.
"I'm loving every day at the minute. We all look forward to training, spending time with the boys and getting stuck into the hard graft.
"The team morale and the togetherness of the boys has been outstanding."
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall, B Twelvetrees, S Monahan, F Burns, J Cowan, D Murphy, H Edmonds, R Harden, W James, J Hamilton (capt), T Savage, A Qera, S Kalamafoni. Replacements: K Britton, N Wood, S Knight, P Buxton, M Cox, D Robson, T Molenaar, M Thomas.
SALE SHARKS: R Miller, C Amesbury, W Addison, S Tuitupou, M Cueto, D Cipriani, D Peel, R Harrison, T Taylor, T Buckley, F McKenzie, K Myall, R Vernon, D Seymour (capt), A Powell. Replacements: J Ward, E Lewis-Roberts, V Cobilas, T Holmes, J Gaskell, W Cliff, N Macleod, C Shepherd.