Now we're set to see the best of Jimmy
"DIFFERENT animal" Jim- my Cowan can be the beast that stalks the Gloucester pack, whipping the forwards into line, believes boss Nigel Davies.
All Black World Cup-winner Cowan's vintage form in Gloucester's 26-24 Northampton victory indicates the 31-year-old is approaching his best at Kingsholm, according to Kingsholm chief Davies.
And now the former Southland and Otago Highlander can reap the benefits of an unbroken pre-season by hitting his peak this term, Davies predicted.
Cowan fought to put two campaigns back-to-back without a break on his October arrival with the Cherry and Whites last season.
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After landing the 100-cap honour for both Otago and Southland – to add to his 51 All Blacks caps – Cowan then jetted straight to Kingsholm and picked up without a break. Rugby director Davies offered Cowan a breather to get his bearings after his hemisphere switch.
But the physical half-back chose to throw himself straight into action at his new club.
Cowan battled manfully, only to sustain a torn anterior crucial ligament in Glouc- ester's 27-11 Northampton Premiership victory at Franklin's Gardens in February.
Fit again after surgery and rehabilitation, Davies believes that enforced break has done Cowan the world of good – backing him to show his true Kingsholm colours this term.
And with accomplished nines Dan Robson and Tavis Knoyle fighting for action too, Davies is more than happy with his scrum-half stocks.
Davies explained: "Jimmy's getting there, he's improving game on game, his game management is good as well.
"And it's just his presence, his physical and mental presence, there's a real aura about him, working the forwards in particular and working the team.
"He's a real winner, but we've also got two other quality players in that position and we do have to have a certain amount of rotation there, to give these players opportunities.
"They are all quality players. Jimmy's a real competitor, he didn't want to be rested last year and he certainly didn't want to pick up that injury, but I think it's probably done him some good.
"He's been able to relax, train properly and get a good pre-season under his belt.
"And he's certainly a different animal from what he was when he came here last year.
"He can drive the pack on, it's a bit of a focus for the pack as well, and he's making sure that they're not shirking, that they are doing their jobs, and that's something he brings to the team."