Ollie Thorley’s return to Franklin’s Gardens this weekend brings with it many happy memories and the Gloucester Rugby youngster is hoping to make a few new ones on Saturday.
The 20-year-old made his Cherry & Whites debut three years ago in the Anglo-Welsh Cup against Northampton Saints and the two teams face off again in the same competition in 2016.
Click here for the latest fixtures and results from the Anglo-Welsh Cup
Since that time Thorley has won the IRB World Junior Championships with England Under-20s and is in his second year as a full-time professional at Kingsholm.
The winger started Gloucester’s dramatic 36-32 win in their first game of the tournament against Saracens last weekend – sealed by David Halaifonua’s late try.
Next up is a return to the scene of his Gloucester debut and the flyer is hoping to turn heads once more.
“My debut was awesome, I had just turned 17 and had been at the school the day before the game so it was all slightly surreal,” he said.
“I was in the centres with Mike Tindall – one of my childhood heroes – it was a pretty special moment and it feels like it was a lot longer ago than just three years.
“This will be my first time back at Franklin’s Gardens for a serious game and I remember how great the atmosphere was that day – even though they were cheering for their team – so I am looking forward to experiencing that again.
“Last weekend was my first 80 in quite a while, I have had a small niggle in my lower back, but it is all fine now so to get a proper run-out is great but I probably would not have been satisfied if we had lost.”
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Victory over Sarries last weekend was only their second at Kingsholm this season after a slow start to the Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.
David Humphreys’ side currently sit tenth in the league table but Thorley is hoping the younger members of the squad can build some momentum for when the league returns in a fortnight’s time.
Click here for the latest Anglo-Welsh Cup tables and an explanation of the format of the tournament
“Sarries came with what you would expect from them but to come back in the fashion that we did was pretty special and we all got quite excited,” he added.
“The atmosphere was amazing as well, 11 and a half thousand for an Anglo-Welsh game is great and to give them a win in such circumstances was great.
“We are hoping (this is a turning point), teams change quite a lot for this tournament – it is about the people that have not had many opportunities putting their hands up.
“We want to build momentum for the whole squad against Saints this weekend and with some big games coming up in the league if we can keep it going that would be sweet.”
The second round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup kicks off this weekend. For full details of the tournament and tickets for the Final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 19 March see www.new-heroes.com