Ian Gough ready to prove himself again after London Irish move
AFTER 17 years and 551 games, Ian Gough is still trying to prove himself.
Gough made his Newport debut against Llanelli in 1996, coming off the bench to play alongside the legendary David 'Muddy' Waters in the second row.
All of his rugby since that Stradey Park clash has been played with Welsh clubs – 139 appearances for the Black and Ambers, 57 for Pontypridd, 92 for Newport Gwent Dragons and 199 for the Ospreys while he also won 64 Wales caps.
That is about to change after the 36-year-old penned a deal with Aviva Premiership outfit London Irish until the end of the season.
Few can boast Gough's experience but an impressive rugby CV doesn't stop his stomach churning because of new boy nerves.
"It only feels like yesterday that I was making my first appearance alongside Muddy Waters," said the lock from Panteg.
"And I may be nearly 18 years down the track but I am still trying to prove myself, I still have that mixture of excitement and nerves.
"I'm out of my comfort zone and I am thoroughly enjoying it."
This isn't necessarily a last hurrah for Gough, who will be battling for starts at Irish with on-loan Dragons lock Ian Nimmo.
After negotiating an early release from his contract with the Ospreys he nearly headed home to Rodney Parade but now he's relishing the intensity of the Exiles' battle against the drop.
"I was quite close to going back to the Dragons but it didn't come about," he said. "I had a good chat with them about it but negotiations came to an end for one reason or another.
"But I knew after leaving the Ospreys that I wanted to continue and I am pleased to be with London Irish.
"I will assess things at the end of the season. If I feel good enough, I've still got the appetite and my form is good then who knows?
"But that's a long way off and I am just concentrating on this new challenge.
"I'm enjoying it so far and there are a lot of new things to learn after six years with the Ospreys, it's been intense both physically and mentally.
"It's an exciting challenge and I know that it's going to be tough – I look at the fixture list and it's Bath this weekend followed by Harlequins.
"One thing you are guaranteed in England is that you are going to be up against some big, physical packs."
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