Mike Tindall ready to power past the 150-mark for Gloucester Rugby
MIKE Tindall will finally rack up his 150 not out for Gloucester at the second attempt tonight – pledging he is nowhere near finished yet.
The 34-year-old centre will captain the Cherry and Whites against his former club Bath in the grudge West Country derby at The Recreation Ground (kick-off 8pm).
Gloucester's player-backs coach is already in advanced talks on a new deal for next term, to take him into a ninth playing year with the Cherry and Whites, as revealed in The Citizen on February 21.
And England's most-capped centre admits he wants to continue his playing role at Kingsholm next season, just as much as his new coaching duties.
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World Cup winner Tindall was primed for his 150th competitive appearance against Worcester last Friday – but pulled up with a hip problem in the warm-up of the eventual 29-23 win.
Now he is fit to notch that milestone tonight – at the ground where his impressive career began back in 1997.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies reckons Tindall is playing some of his best rugby for years – the centre himself credits his new coaching role as crucial to that resurgence.
Tindall explained: "It wasn't something I was thinking about until last week when I saw it was the 150, but it's great.
"I've had the time of my life here in the last eight years, and I would like it to always be more, and hopefully it will keep going, and it will be more.
"The main thing for now is that I don't mind if I play like a bag of spanners, as long as we win tonight!
"I always wanted to continue the coaching role anyway, but with how much I've enjoyed playing this year, I don't think I'm quite done yet.
"And I've always said I won't stop until I'm not enjoying it, or I feel I can't keep up with these young lads.
"And I think they've helped me as much as I try to help them.
"It's been good fun this year, and hopefully it will continue into next.
"Billy (Twelvetrees) getting fully into that EPS, that's a great boost for everyone here.
"Henry's (Trinder) had his injury problems, and that's opened up opportunities for me.
"But at the start of the year I always wanted to play as much as I could anyway, and it's gone pretty well.
"I'm happy with how I'm playing, you can always play better and I'm always a realist.
"I think a lot of it comes from the coaching side and the understanding side on what we're trying to get out of it as well.
"And that's helped me play better and understand how I can get myself in the game a bit better, so I am definitely loving it right now.
"It's fantastic to reach 150 games, and hopefully it will be a great occasion.
"But we've got to go down to the The Rec, put in a big performance and come away with a win – that's what counts."
Tindall's 150 just had to come at his former stomping ground.
Everything is teed up for a fairytale night then – everything that is, save Tindall's mindset.
"Well, we'll just see how it goes," smirked the pragmatist.
Gloucester bludgeoned just a second league win at Bath in 23 years in October 2010 – and have not lost at The Rec since.
Bath blitzed Gloucester 32-5 in the LV=Cup at Kingsholm on February 2 – Gloucester's heaviest professional-era home defeat to their bitter rivals.
Tindall has challenged Gloucester to make their five-straight Premiership wins over Bath count for more than that Anglo-Welsh horror show tonight.
He continued: "You'll watch that LV=Cup game and bring it up as a motivational factor.
"But realistically each game goes on its own merits.
"They played pretty well but we made a lot of errors that created a lot of pressure on ourselves for the whole of the first half, that caught up with us in the last ten minutes.
"So you've got to learn from things like that, but you can't dwell on it.
"We went up to Northampton after losing there in the LV=Cup and won – now we've just got to do the same thing this weekend.
"Getting that first win down there, every time Gloucester went to The Rec the story would come up about how long it had been without a win down there.
"So that really was half the battle.
"We went through the same thing under Dean Ryan with not winning big finals.
"And until you break that cycle and mould, it's always going to be in the back of your mind.
"Then we went down there, broke that cycle and we've had success since.
"That instils the belief you can go down there and it's not a place you think about.
"We've nullified that, now we need to nullify that cup match too."
BATH: N Abendanon, H Agulla, M Banahan, K Eastmond, T Biggs, T Heathcote, P Stringer, P James, R Webber, D Wilson, D Day, D Attwood, F Louw (capt), C Fearns, B Skirving. Replacements: R Batty, N Catt, A Perenise, W Spencer, M Gilbert, M Claassens, S Vesty, S Rokoduguni.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall (capt), J May, F Burns, D Robson, N Wood, D Dawidiuk, R Harden, L Lokotui, W James, T Savage, A Qera, S Kalamafoni. Replacements: H Edmonds, D Murphy, D Chistolini, P Buxton, A Hazell, D Lewis, R Mills, M Thomas.