Powell relishing new lease of life
September 2, 2010
Powell is hoping a move to Premiership giants Wasps will breathe life back into his international career © PA Photos
New recruit Andy Powell is so taken with his new club Wasps that he is keen to sign a contract extension before he has even played a game for the Premiership giants.
The 29-year-old international is relishing a new lease of life after hitting the headlines all the wrong reasons last season following the infamous golf buggy incident in the wake of Wales' Six Nations victory over Scotland.
"It is like I am 20 again," he said. "I am feeling refreshed. I wouldn't say I needed a complete change of scenery, but I probably got a little bit stale in Cardiff. I want to play now. These first six or seven weeks have been good, and I can see it being a good year for myself and the club. I would love to stay here.
Many astute judges feel Wasps have taken a huge gamble on the Wales international back-row forward who is now at his sixth club following stints with Newport, Leicester, Beziers, the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues. He initially agreed a one-year contract with Wasps after being released by Cardiff Blues at the end of a turbulent campaign but he is already convinced that moving to Wasps was the best decision he has ever made.
"I just need to be pushed as a player, challenged, and I think coming to Wasps, with the personnel they have got here, I am always going to have that. It is probably the best move I have made in my life. I am ready to go again, and there are better things to come from me."
Powell's decision to sign for Wasps was helped partly by the fact he already knows the club's head coach Shaun Edwards from Wales and British & Irish Lions duty. Phil Vickery, Joe Worsley, Riki Flutey, Simon Shaw and Tim Payne are all familiar faces from last summer's Lions tour to South Africa. But it was the Wales head coach Warren Gatland who Powell credits for getting his rugby career back on track.
Gatland banned Powell for the remainder of the 2010 Six Nations after he was arrested by police and subsequently banned from driving for taking a golf buggy to an M4 service station the morning after helping Wales snatch a dramatic late victory over Scotland in February.
"Gatland was the main instigator of getting my career back on track - his man-management skills are up there with the best in rugby," added Powell. "I did the time, I paid for it. In years before, coaches would have said 'we will never have you back in,' but those days are gone.
"It is having your best manager around who can work with anyone, because there are so many different individuals as players. Man-management skills are key, and that is what Gatland has got. Not only Warren, but Rob Howley and Shaun as well."
It is no coincidence that all three have strong Wasps connections, and that meant Powell knew what kind of environment he would be joining. "That did help," he admitted. "Some other coaches probably don't know what to make of you. Shaun probably gets that 10% more out of players, and that was a big reason why I joined. With Wasps being so successful it is not hard to choose a club like that."
Powell missed the summer tour of New Zealand through injury, but he is determined to repay Gatland's favour by rediscovering his best form at Wasps and resuming his Test match career. "I have got ambitions. It is not down to Shaun and Gats, it's down to me playing well," he continued. "I am just worrying about playing for Wasps first of all, and if anything else comes out of that it will be happy days."