Gloucester Rugby: Mike Tindall as a dad? I'll wait and see
STARTING a family is all about timing for any recently-married couple.
In spring 2012 Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips had two huge hurdles to overcome before they could even think about the patter of tiny feet.
England's most-capped centre was fighting tooth and nail for a Kingsholm future, deemed surplus to requirements by then-boss Bryan Redpath.
And his wife had the small matter of the Olympics fast looming on the horizon.
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Phillips claimed a silver medal in the team eventing at London's showpiece games – and Tindall was able to claw his way to a Cherry and Whites reprieve under new rugby director Nigel Davies.
Different disciplines and challenges, but persistence and perseverance paid dividend for the Tindalls last year – and now family planning is a reality.
Gloucester's player/backs coach admits he does not know whether parenting will help his fledgling management career.
But he is confident a Kingsholm baby boom will forge stronger Cherry and Whites bonds.
Front-rowers Nick Wood, Shaun Knight and Koree Britton are at the forefront of Gloucester's new dad club.
And the Tindalls are expecting their first child early next year.
Tindall takes his godfather role to great friend James Simpson-Daniel's son George extremely seriously – and believes the growing number of Gloucester parents only benefits Nigel Davies' squad strength.
"I'm not sure whether fatherhood will help my coaching, I'll have to wait and see," admitted the former Bath centre.
"There will be lots of good surprises to being a dad, but you just don't know what they will be.
"I might turn into a philosopher, you never know!
"I'm godfather to George and godfather to some friends in Bath, and there's obviously a big baby boom happening at the club as well.
"I don't think it's going to change too much, I'm really looking forward to it though.
"It's great to see all the boys starting families, it's bringing another dimension to an already tight-knit squad, and that's really positive.
"It's a natural progression, it's the right time for me. We've discussed the timing of it a lot.
"We've probably been ready for a while. It's just the timing in terms of both our sports.
"We've found the right time, it's perfect for Zara and it wasn't going to change a huge amount for me, it was always going to be in the middle of the season.
"But it's great that it's happening with me being here, at Gloucester.
"And we feel very fortunate to be able to move forward with that now."
Tindall is not about to let coaching ambitions hinder his remaining playing aims.
The 34-year-old is still eyeing that elusive 'top trophy' for Gloucester before he hangs up his boots.
He does not believe his coaching style has changed much from last season to this – even if team-mate Simpson-Daniel wants him to stop borrowing former England defence coach Phil Larder's 'for me' catchphrase.
"I've got more of a routine this year from last, but not too much changes," Tindall continued.
"We sit down with Nigel and work out what we've got to do when, and where I can add to things.
"You can over-think things, of course you can.
"You play around with things, but at the end of the day you keep coming back to the simple stuff.
"Jamie can crack jokes about Phil Larder, but it's like Jamie himself said on BT Sport recently, the game's been played for 100 years, and it's still the simple stuff that works.
"You build structure to have a base to go to all the time, but within that you've got to have freedom and individuality, that's what the game's about.
"You've got to encourage that.
"The structure is the fall-back when things aren't going well.
"We've got to embrace that freedom because we've got good athletes and people with the skill to open up a game, so we can't suppress that.
"I think it's a bit early to be thinking about long-term coaching ambitions.
"I've still got big playing goals.
"I haven't won a major trophy with the club, and that's a massive driving passion of mine.
"That drives me still playing-wise, it's those highs you chase, that's what keeps me going.
"We've been a nearly team, that won't change and it shouldn't.
"You've always got that pressure of having been to quarters, semis and even finals in different competitions, and not won.
"Until we break that cycle that's the way it's going to be, and it's what we've got to live with.
"That should be our desperation to win things.
"No one's happy all in all with what we've done so far this season, even though we beat Northampton.
"We created a bucket load of chances against Newcastle but we didn't take them.
"Consistency is vital, we've got to get better at what we're trying to do, and believe that if we get that right then it takes away the other team and what they bring to a game.
"If we worry too much about other teams we'll forget what we are."