Gloucester Rugby: I am not here to wind down says Jimmy Cowan
PASSION and loyalty sold Gloucester to Jimmy Cowan – and the All Blacks scrum-half admits he has come to Kingsholm to test himself against England's best.
The 30-year-old World Cup-winner has revealed he chose Gloucester because of the sheer zeal the Cherry and Whites show for their club – and the commitment of the supporters too.
Gore-born scrum-half Cowan got stuck into Gloucester training for the first time yesterday, admitting he is not sure when he will make his club debut.
The 51-cap All Black hailed new team-mates and fellow scrum-halves Dan Robson and Dave Lewis – and admitted he will have to fight hard to earn his place.
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Cowan explained: "I'm not here to wind down: I'm ready to test myself against the best players and the best teams in the Premiership.
"Gloucester's a great club that reminds me a lot of home, it's quite a parochial club, in a good way.
"The fans care massively and the passion is clear for everyone to see.
"Hearing the Gloucester, Gloucester chant during the London Welsh game, that was amazing.
"I can't wait for my chance to play at Kingsholm, in front of The Shed and the Glaws family.
"But that said, I'm not expecting to have that chance overnight or anything.
"I've got to fight for my place and earn my stripes – and I've seen what Dan Robson and Dave Lewis have done so far this year, and they are going really well.
"I don't know where I stand with selection this weekend, and it's certainly very hard to dive straight in.
"But I've just got to work hard and settle in on the training pitch, and take it from there.
"Everyone has to earn the right to play, week on week, for Gloucester, and I'm relishing starting off with that challenge."
After lifting the World Cup with New Zealand in 2011, Cowan set his sights on a move away from his home country.
Cowan gave more than a decade's service to his home province Southland and Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders, and felt the time was right for change.
But he was keen to rack up 100 caps for both club and region, to add to passing the 50-mark with his nation, before he swapped hemispheres – and he just squeezed in both milestones before linking up with Gloucester.
Revealing he chose Gloucester ahead of a host of other offers, Cowan said former Cherry and Whites fitness coach Mike Anthony nudged him in Kingsholm's direction.
Former Canterbury Crusaders and New Zealand fitness guru Anthony headed strength and conditioning under Nigel Melville at Gloucester.
And Cowan revealed Anthony said the club would suit the gritty competitor down to the ground.
Cowan continued: "I made my decision after the World Cup: I felt I wanted a new challenge in rugby, so I asked my agent to scout around Europe.
"I had about five or six offers, one in Japan, a couple in France and a few here.
"But when I weighed it all up, I did a bit of background on Gloucester and quickly worked out they were the club for me.
"Mike was here for five years and he told me all about the club.
"He's the one who got me hooked I think.
"He told me about his time here and how much he enjoyed it.
"He said it would be my kind of club, and that was enough to get me excited.
"I pride myself on loyalty and passion – that's why I play the game.
"And this club's got plenty of it.
"Straight from arriving here, you can feel that, it runs right through the club and I've had a very warm welcome.
"It's a team you want to bleed for when everyone treats each other like that, and the supporters care about it that much too.
"When I decided I would be leaving, I set myself a few potential targets.
"The challenge of 100 games for Southland and the Highlanders, to add to making 50 All Blacks caps, that stood out.
"It was always going to be tough because of injuries and form and everything else.
"But to finally achieve that was very special.
"It hasn't sunk in yet but hopefully when I look back on that in the future I will be able to appreciate it.
"It's a goal achieved and I'm happy, and that leaves no stone unturned so to speak.
"I've got plenty of rugby left in me and I can't think of a better test than this."