Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney

Skivington has been a breath of fresh air says Varney

STEPHEN Varney insists life is far better at Kingsholm under George Skivington and is adamant Gloucester can consistently challenge for silverware in the future.

The Cherry & Whites’ decision to bring in Skivington after parting ways with director of rugby David Humphreys and head coach Johan Ackermann last summer raised eyebrows.

But 19-year-old scrum-half Varney believes the club are better for it with former London Irish coach Skivington providing a breath of fresh air.

“George has changed the environment and it’s far better than it was,” said Varney, who yesterday won his third Italy cap against Wales – the country of his birth. “He gives young lads an opportunity to play. He picks lads on how they train and not who they are. 

“He’s given loads of young guys like Jack Clement and me an opportunity and I’d like to think we’ve proven him right. We are building well for the future. 

“The target is to consistently be in the top four every season and compete for silverware. We have a great balance of experience and youth and I think we can win silverware over the next few seasons.”

Like many of Gloucester’s squad, Varney is a product of Hartpury College. Since the appointment of Skivington, the Italy international made an instant impact on the Premiership with his slick service, sniping runs and game management catching the eye.

He admits it can be surreal playing in the same back-line as the likes of Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees, Jonny May and Louis Rees-Zammit, but he insists he is learning fast.

“It’s amazing to be Danny’s half-back partner and to play in the same back-line as the likes of Jonny,” Varney said. “It’s been a great learning curve. They’ve got tons of experience and I’m really happy with how things have gone for me at Gloucester recently.

“It’s a great environment at the moment with the new coaches. Everyone is working hard and we are getting some good victories.”

Varney eyes a bigger role moving forard: “I’d like to goal kick on a regular basis like some of the French scrum-halves. I kicked for the Gloucester A team and Italy at age grade level and it’s something I want to add to my game – I’d like to eventually take over goal kicking duties at Gloucester.”

Varney made his Italy debut in the Autumn Nations Cup but insists he will not be joining his adopted country’s domestic sides Benetton or Zebre.

He said: “It’s not compulsory to play in Italy.  I want to stay in the Premiership.

“The Premiership is the best league in the world and I have no interest in going to the PRO14. I really think we are going places with Gloucester.

“We have a squad which has a great balance to it. There are a load of star players, but also a lot of us have come through the academy so we know what it means to play for Gloucester.

“We push each other hard in training and I don’t think we’re far away from being able to win silverware.”

STEFFAN THOMAS

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