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Fired up Gomarsall pays tribute to Melville

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The 29-year-old was in a reflective mood when Planet Rugby caught up with him at England's World Cup training ground in Surrey, pondering the crooked path that has brought him there.

Gomarsall's England career has been somewhat mixed; he has collected the prefix 'veteran' yet only a modest 13 caps since his try-scoring debut against Italy back in 1996.

Despite being on the England scene since 1995 when he was called out to the World Cup as injury cover as a 19-year-old, Gomarsall is preparing for his first full Rugby World Cup come October after being unused in '95, whilst 1999 fell into a period that Gomarsall refers to as "the toughest period of my rugby life".

An unsettled period at London Wasps was followed by a move to Bedford, which saw the scrum-half struggle behind a creaking scrum. The Midland side were duly relegated and Gomarsall's England appearances evaporated.

Then came the moment that changed his life.

"The move to Gloucester was the turning point for me. The club's recent form has done wonders for my rugby and for my confidence. It's great, just great, that I have been able to return to what I enjoy doing, and to have the chance to do it within such a professional set-up.

"For that thanks must go to Nigel – he has done a fantastic job. He got me to the club and back to what I do best. When your bread and butter rugby is in good-shape it makes a big difference, the confidence comes back when you know you are playing for a great side," he said.

Despite competition this time around from Matt Dawson and Kyran Bracken for the England No.9 spot, another redundant trip to the World Cup finals is not what the competitive Gomarsall has in mind.

"I'm feeling good, I'm fighting fit and I don't want to be the number three scrum-half."

The return of a fully-firing Gomarsall adds some spice to the competition for the England scrum-half spot that has seen plenty of tenants, but no mortgage-holders since the days of rolled down socks and Dewi Morris.

Bracken, Dawson and Gomarsall have all laid partial claim to the position over the years and their ongoing duel will be a key area of interest in Australia; and one that the latter is relishing.

"Our rivalry is good for Clive [Woodward], it's good for England and ultimately it is good for the three of us," he said.

"It'll be difficult to pick between us. My inclusion in the squad is massive progression for me, if I get an opportunity to play I must take it fully. It will then be Clive's call and he will have to take it from there."

By Andy Jackson

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