Gloucester Rugby: Matt Kvesic on his Kingsholm 'comeback'
THE GOOSE bumps flashed Matt Kvesic right back to a childhood spent marvelling and dreaming on The Shed.
As Gloucester warmed up for Friday's final pre-season clash against Llanelli Scarlets, the roar of the crowd caught Kvesic unprepared.
The 21-year-old will never forget fighting his way to the front of Gloucester's iconic terracing as a youngster, desperate to be as close as possible to his heroes.
When the Cherry and Whites ran their customary warm-up lap on Friday night Kingsholm erupted in mandatory 'Glawster, Glawster' refrain.
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Kvesic was the other side of the fence, and he almost could not believe it.
"I've watched Gloucester as a kid, I've stood in The Shed as a kid," explained the summer recruit from Worcester Warriors.
"I've squeezed my way to the front and watched Ludovic Mercier banging over the goals and guys like Andy Hazell out there fighting away.
"So coming here is something I'm really relishing.
"Whoever I'm playing for, whether it was Worcester, or with England or now Gloucester, I'll give my heart for the shirt, because I'm that sort of guy.
"It's nice to think everyone will do the same here.
"But it is that little bit special, the crowd are brilliant. It makes the hairs stand up when you do that lap of the pitch before kick-off.
"And when a full house is there it's going to be a rocking place."
Kvesic claimed a try and was also slapped with a yellow card on his Kingsholm debut as Gloucester won out 31-17 over the Llanelli regional outfit.
Stunned by the atmosphere, lifelong Gloucester fan Kvesic revealed his team-mates have warned him he has not experienced anything yet.
Gloucester open their Premiership season by hosting Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) – and England flanker Kvesic admits he would love to start, in front of a full house.
He continued: "Friday night was pretty awesome to be honest.
"To hear the crowd behind you, it's amazing.
"I really enjoyed it. The crowd gives you a lift when they chant, and cheer boys doing well, big hits, turnovers or the eeyore calls for dropped balls – all of that really keeps you going.
"It genuinely does help you keep pushing to the limit.
"I said to the boys after the game that the atmosphere was brilliant.
"And they said wait until it's packed out, because you can't even hear yourself think or the boys around you calling.
"So fingers crossed I get the opportunity to play in front of a full crowd, because that's something I'm really looking forward to."
From latching onto Henry Trinder's defence-turning chip to score, to being sin-binned for one breakdown transgression too many, Kvesic enjoyed a busy Gloucester start.
The natural successor to scavenger king Andy Hazell knows all too well that superior openside flanking is about balancing the sword's deadly double edge.
"It was a pretty eventful night for me," he laughed.
"I was delighted to get a try. I didn't have to do too much really, it was just the product of Trinder's great kick.
"I thought he was outstanding all night, so all I had to do was get on his shoulder.
"I was a bit frustrated with the yellow card, I thought I had rights to the ball. But you've got to respect the referee's decision and try to learn from things like that.
"We'll look at that this week, but I thought we did well overall and it bodes well for the start of the season.
"I haven't had a yellow card for a while, and I've been doing alright on keeping on the right side of the yellow card, but you've always got to keep working hard at that.
"I'm not going to stop going hard at the breakdown because that's my job, you've got to play on the edge – and as a result you have to expect the consequences every now and then.
"But I hope it doesn't happen too often, so hopefully we can get it right this week and beyond.
"We played rugby in the right areas, kept the pressure on them and that was important.
"We probably let a few chances slip by though, and we'll be keen to be more clinical this weekend.
"It's a big opportunity with our first game at home.
"We've got a lot to be proud of from Friday night – but now we want to take it to the next level."