It is no wonder Mike Denbee played so well in Birmingham & Solihull's maiden victory of the season last weekend. The young openside is clearly right at home at Damson Park.
“I like being the underdog and having to fight,” he grinned after a superbly energetic performance in the 38-16 win over Esher.
At a club with the smallest playing budget in the Championship and a recent record unrivalled in its paucity, Bees are not so much underdogs as subterranean and there will be plenty of opportunities for the 24-year-old to fight in the coming weeks.
Denbee arrived at Bees in the summer having not played since November 2009 after a knee injury brought a premature end to his time with Club de Rugby La Vila in the Spanish Premiership.
He turned up desperate to make an impact but then injured his hamstring in pre-season and had to sit idly by as his new club’s back row resources were depleted week by week.
Mark Hopley and Rob Connolly joined Denbee, Adam Clayton, Ross Noonan and Russell Earnshaw on the treatment table and the losses mounted up.
But having smouldered at Rotherham Denbee and Bees burst phosphorescently into life last Sunday with an off-loading, hard running style the visitors simply could not contain.
After a display of incessant tackling, carrying and passing Denbee was the one holding the man of the match’s champagne when the music stopped but it could have gone to Semisi Taulava, Adrian Griffiths or Ross McMillan.
“When you have got guys like Semisi creating holes with his off-load game and Will Lawson when he gets in with his back door passing, it’s a pleasure to play with,” the former Plymouth flanker said.
“When you can run lines as a seven and then have guys streaming off you, it’s brilliant and it’s started happening because we are getting to know each other.
“You have got to recognise there have been 14 or 15 guys who have come in at the beginning of the season now knowing how each other plays. There has been a bedding-in period.”
With Clayton and Connolly back fit, Jack Bentall brought in and playing well and Denbee leading the charge, the underdogs are biting back.