The Gavin Henson lesson that won't be lost on Charlie Ewels when Danny Cipriani walks through the Bath door
England lock Charlie Ewels revisited an important past lesson he learned about Gavin Henson when asked on Thursday to talk about Danny Cipriani, the new Bath signing who will arrive with a bit of a reputation when he comes through the door at The Rec in May.
The 33-year-old Cipriani has been on a sabbatical from rugby since quitting Gloucester in mid-December, but he has now signed a one-year deal that will take him through until the end of the 2021/22 season at Bath. Ewels will be Cipriani’s skipper at the club and while the ex-England out-half comes with a multitude of unflattering opinions surrounding him, the Bath second row won’t pay any attention to the negativity.
The lesson to not judge people until you know them was something not lost on Ewels regarding the 2013/14 arrival of ex-Wales international Henson at Bath. As with Cipriani, Henson was coming with a colourful reputation that Ewels found could not have been further from the truth when he got to know the Welshman from working with him on a daily basis.
“You hear all these stories about players and whatnot and I heard a lot of stories about Gavin Henson before he showed up at the club. Then I met Gav and it completely changed my opinion,” explained Ewels.
“I said to myself I’ll only ever make my own opinions with people. What you hear about lads before you have met them, before you have seen what they do day to day as a pro, is very, very different. So I always form my own opinions of someone when I have been with them in the environment.”
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Ewels already has a brief experience of working with Cipriani as both were on the 2016 England Saxons tour to South Africa and a positive first impression was made. “On that tour, I was 21 but he was brilliant. He was good to me, I learned a lot from him on that tour. It was the first time I properly stepped outside the Bath environment and met lads and he had a different way of seeing the game and I learned a lot from him.
“Again, you can hear the stories, you can see the things that are written in the papers and stuff but until I have been with someone day in day out and worked with them, I won’t form my opinion of what I think of them until then and Danny is a good pro.
“The perception is that he loose and flamboyant but if you actually watch him, he finds all of his moments within the shape. You speak to lads who played with him on that tour, he is so rigorous on what lines you should run because he knows… he is so good at organising the forwards and organising the guys around him and then he will find his moments in that shape.
“I can tell you now, I can show you clips of lads who play loose.. and defences in this league are too good for someone to be off just doing their own thing. The guys that shine are the guys within the shape and within the attacking structures, they can see the space and then they have got the skill set to throw the option, but it would never be there if they didn’t organise the guys around them.
“We all love working with Rhys (Priestland). We want to push to the end of the season with Rhys, Orlando (Bailey) coming through and then Cips is the next coming in and will be the next step on that. He has got different skills from Rhys, he will have some new ideas around the attack. I went on that Saxons tour with him so I know a little bit of what he is about, I like how he attacks, I like how he sees things, I like how he puts detail on the attack… it will be exciting to work with him.”
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