Freddie Burns: 'I love Bath but moving on was the right thing'
He still regards Bath Rugby as his home team and openly admits to an enduring affection for the club.
But on Saturday afternoon, Freddie Burns will be seeking to bamboozle and out-gun anyone in blue, black and white as though his life depended on it.
As a teenager, Burns jumped ship from the Bath Academy and headed to the cherry and white of Gloucester.
It was a colossal call for a 17-year-old to make and the fly-half admits to having had a few moments along the way where he has questioned the wisdom of his decision.
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But, 80 games for Gloucester and an England Saxons call-up later, there are zero regrets.
"Bath is definitely my home- town club – I spent many years growing up and sneaking into games at The Rec," said the 22-year-old ahead of Saturday's derby at Kingsholm.
"But when I left Bath, it was a case of me wanting to get out there and test myself.
"Gloucester were known for playing a lot of youngsters and, at the time, Butch James was the fly-half for Bath – he's world- class.
"I thought about where I was going to have the best opportunity to become the best player and I was impressed by how Gloucester structured their academy.
"They set out a plan for how they'd blood me. Dean Ryan [the then Gloucester director of rugby] said 'you'll be at Cinderford this year, Moseley next year if Gloucester don't need you'.
"As a youngster, all you want to see is a bit of a pathway through and I felt Gloucester had that in place.
"It was a big call. It wasn't easy. I had a lot of conversations with my parents and Bath players past and present – people I hugely respect.
"It took a long time to make the decision and I had my doubts over the years but, especially over the past 18 months or two years, it's definitely been worth the move in terms of how much I've played for Gloucester."
Burns still enjoys bantering on Twitter with his mates from Oldfield Old Boys and regularly returns to the city – there is clearly still a part of him that's rooted in Bath.
And how couldn't there be? He went to Beechen Cliff School and City of Bath College, started playing rugby aged five at Avon and represented a host of sides in the city.
The build-up to a Bath- Gloucester derby has added a bit of frisson to this week but Burns says he isn't one to get carried away.
"It's a West Country derby and that means a bit more excitement but I'm not really the type to get too nervous or get caught up in it," he said.
"I'll go through my week like it's a normal week with the added bonus that it's my hometown club I'll be facing at the end of it. I do get a bit more stick from my mates in texts and on Twitter, though!
"My family and I still keep an eye out for Bath. It's always going to be a club that's special in my heart – it's just a case of putting that to one side for an afternoon and getting the win."
Freddie isn't the only Burns on Gloucester's books. Younger brother Billy also moved to the Cherry and Whites from Bath.
The move took place after Billy, who turned 18 in June, was rejected by the Bath Academy.
Lightning appears to have struck twice, with Billy quickly following in his brother's footsteps and rapidly rising through Gloucester's ranks.
He played at fly-half against Newcastle in the A League on Monday, came off the bench for Gloucester's first team in a LV= Cup match last season and has already played for England under-18s on several occasions.
"I'm lucky," says Freddie. "The whole family comes with me to Gloucester and with what happened to Bill, it's strengthened the family connection with the club."
The strength of that connection will be shown on Saturday when Burns will make every attempt to whip up the notoriously partisan Gloucester crowd to what he hopes will be Bath's detriment.
"I've always been a bit of a showman, I like to feed off the crowd and have a bit of banter with them," he said.
"I think you have to feed off The Shed on derby day."
Showman is the right word. With flair, vision and a desire to take the ball on the gainline, Burns has established himself as the Cherry and Whites' master of ceremonies.
And there can be little doubt that many visiting fans on Saturday will wish that this showman still wore blue, black and white.