Gloucester Rugby captaincy could be next step for Tom Savage
NATURAL leader Tom Savage has all the credentials to become the next Gloucester captain, believes Nigel Davies.
Flanker Savage stepped into the Gloucester captaincy for the first time in Friday night's tense 29-23 victory over Worcester Warriors at Kingsholm.
The 23-year-old was pressed into the role after Mike Tindall suffered a hip injury just minutes before kick-off.
Stuttering Gloucester snatched victory over Worcester thanks to a penalty try from the game's final play.
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Jonny May's searing break outfoxed the Warriors, with full-back Errie Claassens sent off for tripping the 22-year-old pace ace as he closed in on the tryline.
Referee David Rose referred the decision to the Television Match Official, and he issued the red card and the decisive penalty try.
Gloucester boss Davies said Savage was the obvious choice to fill the experienced boots vacated by Tindall on Friday night, England's most-capped centre.
Savage produced a typically bullish back-row showing, producing a number of flattening tackles.
The former Hartpury RFC skipper also handled referee David Rose with respect and nous to boot.
Ex-Wales centre Davies admits the Shropshire-raised loose-forward is a candidate for club captain next season.
Current skipper Jim Hamilton will join Montpellier in the summer.
And Davies said Savage's natural leadership qualities mark him out for serious consideration as totemic lock Hamilton's replacement.
He explained: "I thought Sav handled the leadership very, very well.
"He's definitely got potential to be the next Gloucester captain.
"He's a fantastic player, an unbelievably hard worker and a very grounded young man."
Deputy Savage's stand-in skippering duties were extremely unexpected, but Davies hailed his Gloucester squad for not batting a single eyelid at the last-minute switch.
He continued: "As always, we tried not to create any drama.
"We just get on with things, whether we win or lose, whether decisions go with you or against you, the challenge is to try to keep an even keel.
"And the boys have been great at that, they are not fazed by anything.
"If they concede a try they don't worry too much they just get back on the horse and go forward again, and because of that we're a tough team to beat at the moment."
Should Savage take up the armband permanently when Scotland lock Hamilton departs, it would only further cement his remarkable and rapid Kingsholm rise.
The former Bishop's Castle RFC man did not start regular rugby until he was 16: within five years he had secured a senior contract at Gloucester.
So in just seven years of serious rugby he could find himself captain of a Premiership club.
Savage arrived at Hartpury College nearly six years ago with no pedigree, and worked his way into their Saturday club side through sheer hard graft and guts.
At the same time as skippering Hartpury RFC, Savage was also busy nagging then-Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath to let him train with the Cherry and Whites.
He landed himself a university holiday job, painting a college bar at Hartpury, just so he could be on hand for some extra Gloucester sessions.
It took Redpath no time to realise Savage was the real deal.
After about a month of pre-season this term, Nigel Davies knew exactly that too.
Davies hailed Savage as a definite starter just two games into the season and the Welsh boss' Gloucester tenure.
And now the shrewd back-five forward is making strides on the leadership front too.
Relieved Gloucester edged home after an unconvincing performance, Davies thanked the fans for not deserting the misfiring Cherry and Whites.
He continued: "The crowd never gave up on us, even when it looked all over they never cut their backing.
"They sustained a huge amount of noise – and that definitely lifted the players.
"Hopefully the supporters can see the huge effort of the boys.
"And I want to thank them for staying with us, because it truly helped us raise our game and get the win."