Gloucester Rugby: Apprentice ready to battle the sorcerer
MATURING Freddie Burns would love to master his mentor against Wasps tomorrow.
The 22-year-old admits Wasps playmaker Nicky Robinson has helped turn him into a frontline Premiership fly-half.
Now Burns would love the chance to vindicate Gloucester's decision to allow Welshman Robinson to leave Kingsholm in 2011, and promote him in his place.
Wales and British Lions stalwart Stephen Jones is likely to start for Wasps in tomorrow's Kingsholm Premiership clash (kick-off 3.15pm).
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And Burns is relishing the opportunity to test himself against two of the best.
Burns explained: "Nicky helped me out a lot when he was at the club.
"And I probably am the player I am today because of what he's taught me.
So it would be great to get out there against him.
"I'd obviously like to show it was the right decision to allow him to leave and me to step up.
"It's sometimes a case that the people you know, you almost want to get one over on them more, for the bragging rights.
"So it will be great, and I'll look forward to just getting stuck into whoever takes the field.
"The main thing is, though, not to get too caught up in personal battles, you just want to do what you do for the team.
"I won't get too caught up in that, but it would be nice to get one over on either of them.
"Whichever way around it's a great opportunity to test myself against a top player, but it will be interesting.
"Wasps have made a decent start and have been unlucky in two games, so it should be a good contest."
Hailing 30-year-old Robinson's tactical nous as akin to a chess grand master, Burns hopes he can gain similar mental strength to his mentor.
Burns continued: "It's his overall game management, he's always thinking three moves ahead.
"It was interesting. In his first year he didn't go too well at the start, with that long losing streak.
"And I saw first-hand how mentally strong you have to be in that fly-half role, where you take a lot of stick.
"He stuck to his game, and in the end it came good for him.
"When we won the LV=Cup Nicky was key to that.
"I just saw that whole game management from Nicky, him having a cool head and not letting occasions get to him.
"He's a class act Nicky, no two ways about it, and it would just be good to get out against him again.
"Letting mistakes go from your mind is crucial.
"That comes with maturity as well, I feel I've matured a lot in the last year.
"I think I've got a lot better at making mistakes and parking them entirely.
"Last year you would probably see me miss a kick at goal and then drop a high ball or mess up a kick to touch.
"Normally mistakes come in twos, you make one mistake, it gets to you and you make another.
"You can't dwell on things in sport, you've got to move on, and I've learned that a lot.
"The more you play, the more you realise you can't let these things eat you up, you've just got to let it go.
"I always knew that I was an 80 per cent goal-kicker in myself.
"I know I'm in a pivotal role, like last weekend against Worcester. I was quite happy to come on and get the draw from that scrum where the boys did so well to win a great penalty.
"So the goal-kicking has improved I hope, but we're only three games in so I've got to keep working very hard on that.
"It's amazing how the confidence builds off the back of kicking, it's a massive confidence thing.
"Hopefully I can just keep going the way I am and keep building."