In the first of his new exclusive column on The Rugby Blog, Matt Kvesic talks about settling into life at Gloucester, as well as his excitement at facing a first full season in the England set-up.
I’ve really enjoyed the start to my time at Gloucester. All the boys and all the coaches have been really good with me coming in as a new player, which has been great.
Pre-season went well and everyone was in good nick heading into the season, but then that first game against Sale was a bit disappointing because we put so much effort into that pre-season, and then to turn up how we did on the weekend, we let ourselves down and didn’t play particularly well. Sale played a pretty basic game – no disrespect to them but they didn’t play outstandingly well, we just didn’t turn up.
It was similar with Exeter really, it just came down to who wanted it more and on the day they performed better than us. Those two results were tough to take, because even though we lost heavily to Sarries there were a lot of positives to take out of that game, considering some of the circumstances we had. Although we lost, that first half was really encouraging – the other two games were just a little bit disappointing.
We always look to bounce back though, and the Perpignan game was really good and now we’re in the swing of it a bit. It was a good performance from the boys on the weekend against Munster as well, so if we can keep the momentum going now that will hopefully do us well.
On a personal level, working with Andy Hazell has been great for me, he’s a really easy going bloke and I feel comfortable talking to him. He’s a knowledgable man having played for over ten years at the top level, and he’s a bona fide out and out seven so I feel like I can learn a lot off him and hopefully apply that to my game.
Initiation was interesting, though. At our pre-season camp in France all of the older lads all get stuck into the new boys, and then you get a choice: drink eight pints of milk in 20 minutes without being sick, or you can eat your age in hard-boiled eggs. If you’re sick you have to have your head shaved, so I thought let’s cut to the chase and I just shaved my head – and I looked absolutely terrible!
This is my first full season in the England camp, and I’m delighted to have been named in the squad at the beginning of the year – it’s a massive privilege and a real honour. I did the Leeds camp last year but it was ahead of the Six Nations, and there’s a slightly different feel coming along to this one now. I’m less nervous about meeting people, because last time I came there was no one here from Worcester, so it’s nice now that I’ve met all of the guys before and trained and played with some of them as well. I certainly feel a little bit more comfortable in the squad, and am looking forward to training.
The Argentina tour was great, too. When you’re away for three weeks with guys on an international tour, it’s good fun and you make some strong bonds out there. You’ve also got some of the young lads, like Christian [Wade], Marland [Yarde] and Launchers [Joe Launchbury] that I’ve known for a while through the age group teams, so it’s a really good mix of guys that we’ve got here and there’s a great buzz around.
We’re heading into the autumn looking to come away with three wins – that’s the plan, and that’s what we’re capable of doing. If everyone performs to their best there’s no reason we can’t do that. It’s going to be a massive challenge against three quality sides, who’ve just come off the back of a Rugby Championship as well, so they’ll be raring to go, but we’re definitely capable of coming away with three wins.
New Zealand will bring a bit of edge after last year – they’re going to be wanting a win. They’re the best team in the world and those are the teams that you want to be playing against, and ultimately beating. We’re looking forward to that challenge again, but there are two tough games before then, and we are not looking past Australia.
By Matt Kvesic
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images