An email conversation with James Simpson-Daniel

'Martin Johnson is the right man. He has it by the scruff of the neck'
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The Independent Online

What are your goals for the new season? They are two-fold, really. We have to try to win something at Gloucester, to justify the huge potential we have at the club. I just want to play well for Gloucester and, hopefully, add to my tally of England caps.

What did you learn from last season? I think last season emphasised just how thin the line is between success and failure. For me, two games stand out – Leicester in the Guinness Premiership semi-final and Munster in the Heineken Cup. Against Munster we lapsed in concentration once and they went from deep to score and open the game out, and against Leicester little errors and mistakes were very costly. The line between being successful and failing to convert your potential is very small.

Is the Premiership as hard as they say? I have never played in anything other than the Premiership but the number of world-class players coming into it now emphasises the quality and how difficult it is. If you speak to people who have experienced the Super 14 or the Magners League they say the challenge is there every single week in every single game. You play against top players and it is tough on many different levels. It's very tough.

Are rugby players paid enough? I would say we are all happy with our wages. I don't think anyone would turn down more in any walk of life, but it is a great way to make a living – we are all fortunate to do what we do.

Are footballers paid too much? It's not for me to say and not something I have ever considered, to be honest. Like rugby players, they are fortunate to do something they love.

Where did you go on your holidays? I had eight days in Barbados with my fiancée. I could have stayed for another three weeks or so – it was fantastic. We did all the normal things – chilled out, relaxed, ate lovely food and had spa treatments. It was pure relaxation.

Did you watch the Olympics? I thought everyone involved in Team GB did brilliantly – it was one of those fortnights that was compulsive viewing and we had it on in our team room. From Chris Hoy to the rowers there was obviously a great spirit within the team and the medal haul was fantastic. It just shows what can be achieved. Obviously, Michael Phelps' achievement almost defied belief but the sprinters were incredible. Usain Bolt was frighteningly good in the 100 metres – simply amazing.

Should rugby be in the Olympics? I could definitely see sevens being involved. I am not sure about XVs but I think sevens, with its speed and the nations involved now at the top end, like Kenya, could certainly be included.

Experimental Law Variations – good or bad? Different, I would say. I think it will take some time for playersto be comfortable with the changes. At the moment, the games haven't been great in really good conditions – I'm not sure how it will all work in December or January. We just have to work at them.

Should Brian Ashton have left England and is Martin Johnson the right man to replace him? Yes and yes. Martin Johnson is definitely the right man. He has grabbed the whole thing by the scruff of the neck and there has been some really positive feedback from the coaches. I have had some good chats with Brian Smith, the backs coach, already and that is a great thing for any player to have.

Who will win the Six Nations and who will win the Premiership? I think in the Six Nations we have to put ourselves right up there. Everything is in place for us to challenge. The Six Nations is a tough tournament and the competition has certainly been lifted in recent seasons. Any side can beat another and that makes it tremendously difficult to win, but I have to say England. We have found in the Premiership that anyone can win that one-off game. At Gloucester, we have shown we can beat anybody during the regular season and we know we can beat them – we have to do it when it matters – but I think there are a number of sides who will be competitive.

Who is the player you most look up to? I have a huge amount of respect for guys like Vicks [Phil Vickery], Mike Tindall and Johnno. These guys just demand respect.

What do you like and dislike about the game? When it is played well it offers everything you could want from sport. It has pace, power, intensity – it's fantastic. The thing I dislike most are the external factors, like weather conditions, that have such an impact. Stadiums with a roof means there are no excuses and I am in favour of a summer code.

When your career finishes, what then? Hopefully, to train racehorses. I am learning more and more about it and love it – it's my passion. I feel driven to do it and really want to give it a go.


*Born 30 May 1982, Stockton-on-Tees.

*Height 6ft.

*Weight 14st 6lb.

*Position wing/centre

*Career 10 England caps. Has scored 41 Premiership and 17 Heineken Cup tries. Older brother, Chris, is a former Newcastle scrum-half. Two younger brothers: Mark played for Sale and Charlie is in the Gloucester academy squad

*2001 Try on Gloucester debut, against Rotherham

*2002 Test debut in 31-28 victory over New Zealand at Twickenham

*2003 First Test try, against Italy. Not in World Cup squad

*2008 In England Saxons squad that wins Churchill Cup, after missing out on 2007 World Cup squad