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The winning habit

PUBLISHED: 14:46 16 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:29 20 February 2013

The winning habit

The winning habit

'Gloucester has been my only club. It very much feels like home to me...' Steve Gibbs spends time with winger Charlie Sharples

The winning habit

Gloucester has been my only club. It very much feels like home to me Steve Gibbs spends time with winger Charlie Sharples

Professional sport is all about taking your chances. Making the most of opportunities, on and off the field, when they come your way.

Appropriately, and with perfect timing, Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples last month took his place in the England team which started the first rugby international of the autumn, and twice danced and barrelled his way over the Fiji try line into the national spotlight. Suddenly, what fans at Kingsholm have known for several years, the rest of the country found out in thrilling fashion.

Its been a good couple of weeks, he states with classic understatement, before correcting himself. Its been a pretty mad couple of weeks, to be honest. The weekend was a bit of a whirlwind.

That other sporting clich, of winning being a habit, has stood Sharples and the rest of this burgeoning, exciting cherry and whites squad in good stead this season. With new coach Nigel Davies honing what has been described as the most exiting backline in the Aviva Premiership into a formidable attacking force, Sharples is thankful for the personal benefits that collective achievement has brought.

The form of the team has been pretty good and that is probably what has led to the likes of myself, Freddy Burns, Billy Twelvetrees and Ben Morgan being called into the England set-up.

Of course, playing for Gloucester brings with it a level of expectation engendered by the past triumphs which continue to echo around the imposing Kingsholm terraces. Born in Hong Kong but educated at the citys St Peters High School, the 23 year-old has an acute awareness of what a return to the top would mean to the teams supporters.

Gloucester has been my only club. It very much feels like home to me. I watched Gloucester when I was growing up, as a teenager watching from the Shed, and now being able to run out at Kingsholm, you appreciate how important it is. Its a special place to play and the guys understand what it means to pull on that shirt. Its a privilege for us to be able to play in front of such a great atmosphere.

That 16th man has inspired many a player to write himself into the clubs rich history, and with an already intense schedule compounded by the demands of extra international call-ups, the depth of Davies squad is starting to be revealed.

Gloucester has been lucky enough to be graced with a number of good backs over the years, recognises Sharples, and at the moment theres a group of us all coming through together. Theres a conveyor belt of talent thats moving through and hopefully those guys will keep getting better, and the competition for places will grow.

Weve definitely got a good balance in our squad, with the experience of Mike Tindall and (World Cup-winning New Zealander) Jimmy Cowan alongside the younger guys. Hopefully well bring out the best in each other, but its not something that will happen overnight. Youve got to put all the building blocks in place if you want to create a team that wins trophies.

The spring of 2012 may just have been a crucial watershed for the club, and Sharples admits that Davies has already made his mark.

Nigel has been able to put his own stamp on the team and create his own culture, and if everyone buys into that, youll get success. I had a great relationship with Brushy (former Head Coach Bryan Redpath), and I was upset when he left, but we fell into a negative spiral at the end of last season. It needed someone to come in and make significant changes to completely refresh everything and get us back on track.

Yet his parting shot could easily be a warning to both himself and his team-mates, to remember that the hard work has actually only just begun.

You can look at players and say theyve got the potential, and the talent to go places, but then youve got the get there through your own hard work. You can have all the talent in the world but no-one is going to do it for you.

Fortunately, the future looks bright and, once again, it all comes down to timing. Youve just got to be ready so that when the opportunity comes you make the most of it. Hopefully I have thrown my hat into the ring. Now the ball is in my court its all very well getting there but youve got to play well to stay there.


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