Ollie Thorley - A Chat With Gloucester's Flying Winger

Ollie Thorley - A Chat With Gloucester's Flying Winger

In this edition of The Fix, we talk to Ollie Thorley, Gloucester Rugby's star winger about his rugby career, life in general and of course his custom-made Cherry and White Quella bike!  We meet Ollie after a Sunday game with a European semi-final looming......

The Fix:  Ollie, great to see you again, how are you?

Ollie:  Pretty sore today, yesterday's game against Exeter Chiefs has left me battered and bruised!

The Fix:  Aaah yes, I was there.  Sadly, it didn't quite go our way!

Ollie:  It was a tough game, and we made a few mistakes at key moments. They were definitely the better team on the day.  There will always be errors in a game of rugby, but they will particularly hurt you when they lead to significant momentum swings and I felt that’s what happened yesterday.

The Fix:  You now have a massive week of preparation before meeting Italy's top side, Benetton Rugby in the European Challenge Cup semi-final.  How do you recover? 

Ollie:  Well, it starts immediately. I have already had a 5 minute ice bath this morning, a sauna and spent an hour or so in a Hyperbaric Chamber, all of which helps with bruising, inflammation and muscle recovery.

The Fix:  Obviously I know what a hyperbaric chamber is (I actually have no idea!!) but our readers might need to have that explained....

Ollie:  It is a sealed chamber which is pressurised to roughly 2 atmospheres - equivalent to being about 10 metres deep of water. You breathe air that has been concentrated with oxygen as well.  It helps tissue recover faster, reduces inflammation, and can help your body's ability to get oxygen to the muscles - I am a big fan.  Some research has indicated that it can also help with the ageing process, you should try it Mike!

The Fix:  Ha ha, I would love to - my body seems to be in permanent recovery mode!  So apart from that regime, the day after a game is normally a 'rest day'?

Ollie:  Yep, but tomorrow will be a pretty full day. Into HQ at 7.30 and we'll be there until around 2.30.  We will do some analysis on the Exeter game but also start to look at the strengths and weaknesses of Benetton, watching videos, looking at key players and how we can disrupt them.  There will also be a primarily lower-body gym session and then we'll hit a more all-body session on Wednesday.  Skills, mobility and Pilates stuff will be on Thursday and then tapering everything down to prepare for Saturday's game.

The Fix:  The Cherry and Whites  haven't  had the best season in the Gallagher Prem this year but winning the Premiership Cup and this great run in Europe has been fantastic.  How has that lifted morale?

I can't pretend that our performance in the league has been where any of us would want but we are a tight squad and morale is good.  The Premiership Cup win was fantastic and lifted everyone, the European journey is still alive, and we are all massively motivated to get into the final and get a chance at another trophy.


The Fix:  I am excited too and will be there cheering you on!  There have been some great wins along the way but Benetton are quite handy this year....

Ollie: Yes, very. It is basically 80% of the Italian team and they have had a great season.  They will come in with a lot of confidence but hopefully playing at home will give us a huge boost.  The mood for the European games has been amazing and we are in it to win it.

The Fix: You have had a wonderful career with Gloucester and started very young:

Ollie:  Yes, I think I hold the record for the youngest player to start for a Premiership Club.  It was 2013 and I was still in the Lower 6th at school and started a game aged 17 playing centre alongside Mike Tindall, a World Cup winner who was just about old enough to be my Dad!  I don't think the protocols of the modern game will allow a repeat of that so I might have that record for a while!

The Fix:  Was Mr Tindall nice to you?

Ollie: He was brilliant. At the time we had a good laugh as he was slowing down a bit after almost 15 years of playing which is an amazing achievement, regardless of a world cup win as well.  Weirdly, as a youngster at the club, I had a good relationship with the big lads at the front.  I lift-shared with some of the front row regularly: Paddy McAllister and Woody (Nick Wood). They alongside Richard Hibbard were fantastic mentors in my early days.  Great blokes with amazing rugby careers but who were also very kind and supportive to a young winger, fresh out of school.

The Fix:  Were you subjected to the delights of the milk test?  Could you elaborate?

Ollie:  Oh yes, no one gets away with missing that at Gloucester. All new players are sat down and have to attempt to down 8 pints of milk in 20 minutes.  As a rule, this doesn't work out and the milk tends to reappear pretty quickly, at which point, while the milk is coming back up, one of your teammates will be cutting your hair off with a set of clippers.  Charlie Sharples was usually the man with the clippers! That is why you see a lot of shaved heads at the beginning of the season.

The Fix:  Nice!  Any other strange traditions?

On one of our livelier socials, some of the forwards came up with the idea of sticking cocktail sticks into their faces just enough for them to hang there.  I think Fraser Balmain broke the record and was wandering around with about 50 hanging off his face!

The Fix: On the pitch, which players have you most admired in your career?

Ollie: In the backs, Tom Marshall, who played with Gloucester was amazing. He had an all-round skill set and a top rugby brain. Playing and training alongside him was a real pleasure and he made the players around him better.  Santi Carreras is similar - annoyingly skilful! 

In the forwards, our old prop the ex-All-Black, John Afoa, was a ridiculous rugby player who again had the brain but was also very technical in the scrum. He was probably more skilful than most of us backs! The Curry twins who I have trained with in the England camps are also phenomenal. They can hit hard, jackal, move well and read the game well. A pretty enviable combo for a back row player!

The Fix: You mentioned England then, after playing under 18's and under 20's, you got a senior cap under Eddie Jones - how was that?

Ollie: It is the highest honour as a player to represent your country and you learn so much being surrounded by all the best players in the country being in one team. I’d love to get back to it!

The Fix: Is England still an ambition for you?

Ollie: Honestly, it is a burning ambition and I’d love to get back in the mix. I am a more rounded player than I was when I got my first cap back in 2020, my defensive play and feel for the game has improved and I reckon I am quicker now than ever. There’s always loads of competition in the wing spots though and guys like Feyi-Waboso and Freeman have been playing really well this year amongst others. I feel I could still offer something a bit different to the team.

The Fix: On the subject of coaches, who stands out from your career?

I have had some great rugby coaches and still have, however the one who stands out for me from a slightly different perspective is Margot Wells. I have worked with her on my speed, running techniques, preparation before games and more.  She is an amazing lady who is always finding room for improvement in all areas and is never shy to tell you about them!

The Fix:  That is great to hear. So, off the pitch, what are you getting up to?  Has your custom Gloucester Rugby themed Quella been getting much use?   What else are you getting up to?

Ollie:  The bike is great for whizzing around town in a pair of rugby shorts and looks the business. There's not much better than the simplicity of a single speed on a sunny day riding around town.  Serious distance cycling is not something my body is built for.  I'm too heavy and all of my training is around building explosive power rather than endurance, so I won't be joining the lycra clad gang or mamil’s just yet! That’s why the single-speeded is perfect.

Aside from that I am doing a degree, I love scuba diving when on holiday, playing the piano and gardening.  The sport I will get stuck into again when rugby isn't my career anymore is skiing.  I miss those winter holidays and the buzz of flying down a mountain but, for the next few years, rugby comes first.

The Fix:  Ollie, it has been a huge pleasure, I could chat all day.  Thanks so much for talking to us and all the very best for next week and your career going forward.


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