Gloucester Rugby: Ryan Mills keen to be the centre of attention
RYAN Mills hopes his fly-half cameo has earned him the chance to help shape Gloucester's final push for the Premiership play-offs.
The emerging Gloucester playmaker has spent the bulk of the Six Nations deputising for Freddie Burns in the Cherry and Whites' outside-half berth.
The 20-year-old is quite happy to operate at fly-half, but is far more comfortable at inside centre.
The Exeter-born pivot first battled back to fitness after knee ligament surgery, then settled immediately to his number-ten task.
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After guiding Gloucester through four consecutive league clashes in his less familiar role, he is now itching to help the Kingsholm men in their final quest to squeeze into the league's critical top-four spots, to tee up a semi-final.
New England man Burns has admitted he cannot wait to line up alongside Mills in Gloucester's midfield – and England Under-20s graduate Mills says the feeling is mutual.
Hoping to play a full part in Gloucester's final five regular-season league clashes, Mills admitted he knows full well his ability to operate at both ten and 12 is what keeps him in the Kingsholm squad.
Mills explained: "I've enjoyed playing ten for the past few weeks – if I couldn't play both positions I wouldn't have a chance to be in the squad even.
"It's still good for me to be able to play both but I enjoy playing most of my rugby at 12.
"So I'd love to have the chance for that, and to play alongside Freddie.
"Freddie and Billy (Twelvetrees) will both be coming back after the Six Nations now, and obviously they're both great players.
"But I'd like to keep some place in the squad, whether that's coming off the bench to make an impact or if the coaches think it, starting.
"I feel I'm ready to play as much time as I can, for the last five league games and the crucial part of the season.
"I think I've been developing well this term, even though it's only been a short time that I've back to full fitness really.
"But we're in a reasonable position and now it's time for us to take advantage."
Gloucester host London Welsh at Kingsholm on Saturday, March 23 (kick-off 3pm), gunning to complete a Premiership double over the Exiles.
The Cherry and Whites edged out Lyn Jones' side 31-25 at Oxford's Kassam Stadium back on Sunday, September 30.
Mills' pre-season knee surgery meant he missed out that day, but was left in no doubt that Welsh are among the league's most bruising sides from what he watched.
Former Exeter College student Mills has now played six straight games since his return to full fitness, and is already excited by the prospect of entertaining Welsh at Kingsholm.
After a week's break Gloucester are back into full training, and Mills knows they must now kick-start a run of league victories.
He continued: "Welsh are one of the most physical sides in the league, at the breakdown area, their contact work, their tackling work.
"They run hard, they hit direct lines and they don't take backward steps.
"They played really well against Sarries and I think they were a bit unlucky with a few decisions.
"It will be a really tough, physical game – and those always end up massive tactical battles.
"It would be nice to get a few early wins, because it would set us up nicely for the last few games.
"We've got to go and get the job done against London Welsh, and that would keep us in a very good position.
"We had a bit of a recovery time with last week off, and that was pretty welcome.
"Then we've been out training pretty hard this time around, it's been an opportunity to have a bit of a blast and work hard on conditioning and skills.
"We've blown the cobwebs out now, and we'll be straight back into normal training next week.
"There's a lot for us to work on to sharpen up from the Bath game, but I really think we can handle all of that.
"We've got the preparation time, now we need to make it count."