Holm Truths: Ryan Mills raring to go after injury
After an injury false-start Ryan Mills is itching to get going in the Gloucester first team again.
The versatile midfielder explained how he is tapping into the know-how of senior Kingsholm counterparts like Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees.
IT was meant to be the big breakthrough.
Instead Ryan Mills' knee broke down.
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The exciting young playmaker was gearing up to edge into regular first-team rugby at Kingsholm when his knee started giving way.
The Devon-born pivot could train and even play – but by the time he got home he could not climb the stairs.
The next day the knee would be back in working order, only for the cycle to repeat.
When doctors told Mills he is too flexible, they were not referring to his ability to operate at fly-half, centre or full-back.
His overly lax joints left his femur grating on his tibia and fibula.
Surgery to drill holes into the bone that would regrow naturally was the only option.
The talented 20-year-old thinks it all sounds worse than it was – but he is definitely looking to make up for lost time.
He said: "I feel a lot better than I thought I would, it hasn't taken me as long as I expected to get sharp and back to normal.
"I do feel a lot better than I was expecting.
"But obviously all the shape and structure of the team is completely new this year, and because I haven't played this is my first chance to get to grips with it.
"I've been training for nearly three weeks now.
"And then I've got all next week too before I can play.
"So hopefully after all that I should feel confident with it all.
"Back in February I started training, I was having problems kicking, I had pain in my knee kicking and when I was accelerating, and it was just ongoing.
"It got to the point where I could get through training and matches, but then when I got home I couldn't walk up stairs, put any weight through it.
"My knee would give way when I was getting out of the car, and it got to the point where I had to do something about it.
"I'm quite flexible, and when I kick my knee hyperextends, and they thought it was making my femur rub against my tibia-fibia around my knee.
"I ended up with one bit that was just really really worn.
"So mobility was a problem then.
"They drilled a few holes, and it regrows itself, I had some tendon pain in my quad and through the top of my knee, so they sorted that out as well and now I feel pretty good."
Mills underwent surgery in August that wrote him off for the first half of the first season under Nigel Davies.
Back to full fitness slightly ahead of schedule now, Mills is targeting a return in the upcoming LV=Cup action.
He said: "I've been ready to play for the last two weeks, I started training fully the week before the Irish game but it was too soon to come back.
"After that I've been ready but I wasn't registered for the Amlin because quite reasonably they didn't expect me to be fit in time to play in the group stage.
"But I'm hoping that the Northampton game in the LV=Cup will be a first chance for me, depending on selection of course.
"With the team going so well and playing so well, it gives a massive confidence boost to the boys who are injured, it gives you massive impetus to get back.
"When you watch them going well at the weekend, you just want to be part of it.
"I'd like to think that was one of the reasons for me getting back ahead of schedule.
"And another is Olly Morgan – I've trained in rehab with him every day, and he's never been anything other than positive.
"He's got an incredible attitude and it definitely rubs off."
England Under-20s graduate Mills came through the Gloucester Academy at the same time as increasingly-impressive scrum-half Dan Robson.
Mills has watched enviously as his close friend has cemented his first-class prowess, and is now primed to follow suit.
Most comfortable at inside centre, Mills will offer a perfect alternative to Billy Twelvetrees, in the second five-eighth mould.
And the man himself is intent on learning as much as possible from the former Leicester centre, especially since his England call.
Mills added: "It's crazy when you see how some of the other guys are doing, it's really exciting.
"And so I really hope I can be a part of that now.
"Hopefully there will be an opportunity at 12 for me too.
"Billy's had to play a lot this year so far, and I think it would be good to have a bit of variety in there.
"I don't know where I'll be covering with Freddie and Billy being away, so that will keep me on my toes.
"And I'm just ready to get in wherever I can.
"Billy has made the EPS so he's impressed at the highest level.
"It's great to be with guys of that ability every day, learning from them and working out exactly what you have to do to get to that level.
"It's great to be able to compare yourself to that, and work out just how hard and far you're going to have to push yourself to get up to that.
"You've almost got a gauge of what the selectors are looking for."