Mike Tindall: We don't call him Sarge for nothing but Moriarty is great to work with
THE memory makes Mike Tindall shudder.
Gloucester's player/backs coach casts his mind back to 1999 and a Heineken Cup game at Swansea.
The famously inhospitable St Helen's ground should be enough to start the spine tingling, maybe too Bath's 10-9 defeat.
But the 34-year-old centre is stupefied by a totally different aspect of that December day – he played against Gloucester's defence coach Paul Moriarty.
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To the former Welsh back-row battering ram turned taskmaster trainer, that statistic is a mark of gritty longevity in a playing career that spanned dual-code international honours.
It should be the same to Tindall, but it only served to remind him that time waits for no man.
An Indian summer renaissance under new Gloucester boss Nigel Davies is keeping the old father at bay, though, and England's most capped centre hopes his new lease of life will continue to extend his playing career.
Kingsholm defence specialist Moriarty might be demanding – and Tindall might not enjoy reminiscing about squaring up in European action 13 years ago – but he also knows how and when to lighten the mood.
"Any coach will tell you that you can't win a game without defence," Tindall explained.
"It's a base level, your attack can always grow but you always need that solidity.
"So our main challenge is to enjoy that side of it.
"Paul's honest, up front and he still makes defence fun.
"He expects a certain level of commitment and he lets you know when he doesn't get that, but he also praises you when he does get what he wants.
"He makes defence fun for us, and some of his wordings and phrases are priceless as well.
"We don't call him Sarge for no reason, though, and it's great to work with someone who demands so much from us.
"He's got a slight OCD about everything and I'd feel sorry for a referee if he ever got to have a one-on-one with one.
"The sad thing is I played against him in the old days, back in Swansea, which is a bit disappointing from my point of view!
"You never liked playing against the Moriartys, Paul and his brother Richard, especially at St Helen's, it was a horrible ground for away teams.
"Paul hasn't changed in terms of his approach, and you can see a lot of his characteristics in his son Ross (Gloucester Academy flanker) too, he's got that same mental edge as his dad."
At the tail-end of Bryan Redpath's tenure, Tindall was surplus to requirements at Gloucester and heading for the Cherry and Whites exit.
Redpath's ignominious departure turned Kingsholm upside, though, and new rugby director Davies' first pivotal move was to hand Tindall his dual role.
Tindall has a one-year contract and now he has had a taste of coaching, he admitted he wants more, and at Gloucester too.
He continued: "This whole year's been a real eye-opener in terms of how I see the future going and where I see it going.
"It's been hugely enjoyable so far, and you just want it to continue – both in terms of playing and coaching.
"So hopefully that will be the case.
"The coaching is definitely a difficult challenge, but it's just trying to find little things to work on.
"We haven't had that many strike opportunities this season, so it's just finding little ways that we can be effective as a backline unit.
"But it's great having Nigel as a support, just to talk through how things are going, and Carl Hogg and the other coaches too.
"It gives you a totally different perspective from when you're playing, it opens your mind a bit more.
"And it can definitely help me improve as a player too.
"The amount of footage you watch, things really get ingrained in there, and then when you spend time talking to the other coaches too, your understanding becomes clearer all the time.
"You know more and more what the team as a whole is trying to do on the field, and you can be a second ear to the decision-makers in the team, and suggest little things.
"You can help in that way too."