Worcester back row Blair Cowan has paid tribute to the Warriors coaches for facilitating his transition into top flight rugby.
The 25-year-old has made an outstanding start to his Sixways career, having moved from the Championship and Cornish Pirates in January.
He has already made five starts and has looked totally at ease with life in the Premiership having impressed supporters with his powerful running and strong defence.
Indeed the No.8’s emergence has even allowed head coach Richard Hill to release Adam Balding from his contract so that he could take up an offer with Newcastle.
But New Zealand-born Cowan says the fact Worcester have made life so easy off the field, has enabled him to express himself on it.
“It comes down to the environment they have put me in,” he said. “To be honest I was a little bit nervous coming in but everyone has been positive with everything, they have helped me out and talked me through.
“Phil Davies has been really good, talked me through stuff and given me a lot of confidence going into games. I have really enjoyed the step up from Championship to Premiership and feel like I’ve done OK.
“Have I surprised myself with how smooth the transition has been? Yes and no.
“At times I remind myself it’s just rugby, 15 blokes with a ball – I say that to myself every day before I play. I tell myself I have played this game all my life.
“Obviously it’s going to be a bit more physical and with a bit more skill involved but it’s still rugby and I know this game like the back of my hand.
“When it comes to the contact there is a bit more in there but I will adapt to that in the future.”
Indeed Cowan’s first three Premiership matches have come against some of the division’s big hitters – Sale, Harlequins and Saracens – and he has acquitted himself well against Nick Easter and Ernst Joubert.
Indeed, far from being cowed by that he has been invigorated. “I look forward to playing against guys with big names,” he said.
“It makes me want to make a dominant tackle and gives me the extra drive to do that.
“That’s the sort of stuff that lifts you and if it doesn’t you are going down the route of being intimidated.”
Cowan originally started out in the Wellington academy where he found Jerry Collins, Rodney So’oialo and Victor Vito in front of him.
As a result he opted to move to the UK when Pirates offered him a deal and he spent a couple of seasons in Penzance under compatriot and head coach Chris Stirling.