One of rugby's good guys
February 28, 2013
Freddie Burns in action for Gloucester © Getty Images
I love my job, not only do I get to watch as much sport as I like but I am also lucky enough to be able to meet and interview those whose talents I admire so greatly on the field of play. And this week was no exception as I made my way to Gloucester to chat to Freddie Burns.
To be fair most of the Aviva Premiership players I interview in my mid-week shoots are absolutely brilliant. They are open, natural and we, more often than not, have a laugh, in between talking about more serious rugby matters. I am a great believer in the notion that the rugby viewing public not only want to know about tactics and the players' hopes and aspirations for the forthcoming games but also a little about who the players really are - what they are about, their personalities, their banter with their colleagues, what makes them tick and contributes to making them the players they are on the pitch.
When it comes to interviewing Freddie Burns you are guaranteed to get all of the above.
In full flow Freddie is one of England's most exciting talents - he possesses a natural assurance that most elder statesmen would kill for, vision and playmaking skills that his hero Carlos Spencer would be proud of. And this season he has certainly answered some of the question marks raised over his game management.
All this contributes to the reason why the international coaches hold him in such high esteem. Many had his name pencilled in to their England matchday squad before the Six Nations kicked off - some as the first choice fly half with Owen Farrell at 12 - but injury struck and his hopes of setting the stage alight disappeared.
On the plus side his recovery is going well. Burns hopes to be fit in time for Friday night's match at the Rec. He will face the club he supported as a child and played for at academy level.
But for all his self-assurance and swagger - is he a show off? Yes a little but in the nicest possible way - you have to be to play the way he does. Does he like the limelight? I am sure he does. But he is as good taking the mickey out of himself as he does others and he will always take a joke at his own expense.
To those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Burns - let me tell you he is one of the most genuine guys you could hope to meet and once met, certainly never forgotten! He is as natural on camera as he is off it and you have the feeling that what you see is exactly what you get. As ever he had plenty of time for us, left the crew and I in stiches before, during and after the interview!
He even showed us videos of his Mum dancing to a Professor Green track and a side by side shot of him with his look-a-like Colonel Gaddafi! He is, as you would say, a one off!
Sarra Elgan chats to Freddie Burns%]
We spoke about his career up to this point, his debut against New Zealand, where his self confidence comes from, his natural playmaking instincts, his family, friends and even love life! Nothing was out of bounds and I will resist telling you what he said on any of the above subjects - you'll have to watch the item on Friday night - but needless to say it was all good stuff!
I left the interview feeling like I had been chatting to one of my mates, or a little brother if you like. Speaking to the crew after Freddie left, he had certainly made an impression on them too - with one stating how great it would be to show the interview in full all 20 minutes of it.
It is so refreshing that in this day and age professional sports men can be so down to earth yet so gifted, so unaffected by their talents, and we are very fortunate that in the rugby world we have a number of these - we are blessed with all round 'good blokes' who are both inspirations and role models to the younger generation.
I am sure we can all look forward to seeing Freddie mature into one of the most gifted playmakers this country has ever seen, and as long as he can keep as grounded as he is now, he has a big future.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Sarra Elgan is a roving reporter for ESPN
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September