Gloucester Rugby: Mike Tindall - it's great to be back
WHEN Gloucester returned for pre-season training one man was conspicuous by his absence.
Mike Tindall’s limbo crept into the start of the new campaign’s preparations – but new rugby director Nigel Davies swiftly tied the World Cup winner down to a new contract.
Surplus to requirements in March, Tindall was quickly installed as player-backs coach in June – but his new deal was not ratified by the time Gloucester returned for pre-season.
Three months of uncertainty ended without issue under Davies, and Tindall was soon back in the Kingsholm saddle.
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But Tindall admits there were points when he did seriously worry his seventh year at Gloucester would be his last.
No doubt his new role is vindication for holding out on his preferred option, but England’s most-capped centre accepts it was a big call – effectively letting other offers pass him by while he fought for his Gloucester future.
The power of The Shed and the old-school club atmosphere have helped Tindall find his niche with the Cherry and Whites.
And he was not about to let that slip without a real battle.
He explained: “There were certainly times when I was worried. Originally when I first got told there was a chance there wouldn’t be something here I had something lined up, but then that got taken away which created the uncertainty.
“But the further we went on solid options came in, but with the Gloucester option hanging as a maybe I wanted to make sure that was a definite no or a definite yes before I passed it up. Playing in front of The Shed is always special, and it’s not something you give up easily.
“Staying here was the first option but you can’t rely on that, I was never in a position where I could rely on that.
“I was told in March that it didn’t look likely I was going to get anything.
“But the new coaches coming in created a new opportunity for me to ask the question, which I did, and as I had a couple of other things lined up to go, that was always still my first option and I would have held out as long as I could.”
Acutely aware he could not string other suitors along while trying to secure a new Gloucester deal, Tindall said he just had to be honest with all parties and hope they would appreciate his situation.
If he risked leaving himself with nothing, he explained at least he had given his best shot for the challenge that would have given him the most motivation and potential rugby reward.
He continued: “I was honest with the other options about Gloucester being the best option for me as a person, a player and a family man.
“That was what I wanted to do, it came and I took it. Who I was speaking to were very understanding, and I think being honest with people is always the best way.
“They had timescales that they needed to stick to, and I always appreciated that.
“So it’s great to still be there, and still be able to play and be out there.
“It was everything I wanted at the end of last season, it might have taken a while to get it done, but it got done in the long-run.
“And it’s been great to be back around.”
Admitting the coaching side of his new role is a constant challenge, Tindall said that job is always eased by the attitude of his team-mates.
He added: “It’s a learning curve, and it will get a lot steeper now we’re into matches.
“I’ve got no complaints about the work ethic of the boys, and as long as we keep that I’m sure we’ll just get better and better.”