Holm Truths: Huia Edmonds on Gloucester's potential
HUIA Edmonds was brought to Kingsholm to add an extra dimension to Gloucester's running game.
The mobile hooker explained how the Cherry and Whites' new-look back-row have taken up that slack though, allowing him to focus on other things.
THE eyebrows peak and the cheeks inflate.
It's a look that has pained many a terrified defender flailing at Gloucester's barnstorming back-row forwards this season.
The mere mention of bruising trio Sione Kalamafoni, Akapusi Qera and Ben Morgan is enough to animate hooker Huia Edmonds in the very same way.
The relief that he does not have to face down Kingsholm's marauders is palpable.
"The guys in our team who excel at ball-carrying, jeez, they can keep doing it," explained the 31-year-old.
"Once we get go-forward and over the advantage line, that's when I really start to enjoy my rugby, because I feel then like we really have the edge.
"That's when it starts to open up a little for us.
"With the backs together all being dangerous attacking rugby players, and then with a back-row that's perhaps the best in the competition at the moment, things could end up pretty potent here.
"The back-row are getting go-forward all the time, and all that makes my job a lot easier.
"I don't have to worry too much about getting my hands on the ball, because I know I've got so many others around me that can do that.
"And that just takes a little bit more pressure off me and a few others."
Edmonds was billed as another Schalk Brits in waiting before his Gloucester arrival.
The former Brumbies front-rower has certainly exhibited his free-running skills at points this term, but clearly the drier ground at the tail-end of the campaign could prove his forte.
If the New Zealand-born Australia cap has happily shifted his approach to stay in line with the demands of the British winter, he believes he has had to change little else.
But he did trade hemispheres to play expansive and incisive rugby, and he still believes Gloucester can become one of the Premiership's best sides on that front.
He continued: "The team's travelling well, I've been playing some good rugby.
"Nothing really is different compared to back home, to be honest, except probably just the weather.
"Learning to adapt to wet weather here is the main thing.
"The grounds don't tend to get cloggy back home, and adapting to that is clearly important.
"It's pretty good that there's not too much of a change really, nothing's really jumped out at me as being bad or different – it's lived up to expectations and I'm excited by that.
"For the last four to five years Gloucester have been very well-known for their attacking rugby.
"And that's what really made me want to come here, because they play a game I'm so used to.
"I don't think we've really had a game this year when we've been outstanding.
"We've got by in a few matches and won our matches, but we've only just managed that.
"So I'd really like to see us open up.
"We haven't got a try bonus yet and it would be great to handle that.
"But with so many attacking talents in the team, once we start to open up, who knows what could possibly be done.
"It's a great position to be in.
"We haven't played our best rugby, but generally we're winning."
Confident the majority of Gloucester's squad have international potential, Edmonds believes mastering the tackle-area and the scrummage are two of the main challenges that stand between the Cherry and Whites and the play-offs.
He added: "We've got so much work that needs to be done and so much potential in our team that it's pretty scary.
"There's a lot of people in the squad that could step up another level, most in fact.
"We're a young team and willing to learn, from the older players as well as the coaches.
"And that's a great quality to have.
"Dominating the breakdown and improving the line speed in defence are probably the main areas.
"If we keep focusing on those then I think we can be right in there in the top four come May.
"We want to be the best at the set-piece, it didn't happen last weekend but we've taken that on the chin, we're not in panic mode and we're going to look to pick that up quickly.
"So set-piece and contact at the breakdown will be big for us.
"Get those right and I don't see any reason why we can't achieve what we all want."