England wing Matt Banahan still rates himself “a 1980’s F1 car” but admits Gloucester’s group of turbo charged wingers Jonny May, Louis Rees-Zammit and Ollie Thorley are currently operating at a speed that he could never reach – even at the peak of his powers.
Banahan, whose 6ft 7ins and 18st frame still gives him the ability to hurt defences, provides the young guns on the wing for Gloucester with much-needed experience gained at test level where he won 16 England caps and as a key member of the Bath back division for 12 years before moving to Kingsholm. As he prepares for Wednesday night’s trip to Gallagher Premiership leaders Exeter, he gave his verdict on the other wing threats at the club along with Jason Woodward, the elusive full back.
The 33-year-old said: “The way I put it is this; an F1 car from the 1960s is still the fastest car that was around then. I am classing myself as a 1980’s F1 car and these are 2020 F1 cars and they are much faster than I have ever been. It is great to see these players develop around me and the opportunities they have given themselves. My game has changed over the years and my brakes are working just as fast but the natural gift they have is amazing and it is great to be part of it.
“We have Jason Woodward at full-back and Ollie Thorley, Louis Rees-Zammit and Jonny May on the wings and sometimes you put your hand up and say that if I am fourth choice then I just put my thumbs up and keep a smile on my face. In training I keep up my momentum and enjoy it and hopeful the way I act and behave will benefit them in the long run.
“I have a nice conversation with Thorlo and Zammit about things and it is nice to get their perspective. Over the years, Jonny has become one of the best wings around and his knowledge, the way he talks and sees things is unbelievable. I remember he used to be very quiet and run a bit lateral but now everything he does has a reason to it and he is flourishing as an international wing,” concluded Banahan.
Dominic Waldouck, who recently joined as Gloucester’s defence coach, is using the pace of his wingers to help shore up that area of the team’s game. Since the restart, Gloucester have scored 18 tries but conceded 15 and he said: “One of the things we are trying to promote is that the pace in the back three can be used to prevent as well as score tries. You can see that in the work they put and there is desperation to use their pace to stop tries. It is a tool in our defensive weapons.”
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