Gloucester winger Ollie Thorley says he has taken inspiration from watching the autumn internationals, as he looks for consistency after an injury-hit start to the season.
Thorley, 25, started Gloucester’s first three matches of the Premiership campaign, but then injured his knee.
He returned in Saturday’s Premiership Cup win over Exeter.
“If you’re watching what world class players do, you’re going to get better, aren’t you?” Thorley said.
“I’ve felt pretty inspired watching some of the performances over the autumn internationals. A few individuals in my position I thought did things really well.
“It’s interesting seeing people playing the best rugby in the current landscape. Rugby evolves so quickly, rule changes and styles of play. I think I’m making good progression.
“Masterpieces take a while to paint, don’t they, so you’ve just got to keep adding different layers. I’m not saying I’m a masterpiece yet, but that’s what everyone is working towards.”
Thorley is already into his eighth season with the Cherry and Whites, after becoming their youngest ever player in 2013 when he was just 17.
The pacy Gloucester academy graduate has gone on to make 84 appearances for the club, but competition in the team’s backline is stiff alongside wingers Jonny May, Louis Rees-Zammit and Charlie Sharples.
Despite being on the sidelines for the past couple of months, Thorley took plenty of positives from watching team-mates and rivals play.
He pointed to Ireland’s James Lowe in their victory over New Zealand, as well as compatriot Freddie Steward at England, as players whose performances stood out to him.
Yet he insisted that getting consistent playing time is now his main aim.
“I don’t like to focus on other players too much. Ultimately, I know what I can do and I’ve got other things that I can do that stand me apart, that’s what my x-factor is, every player has that at this level,” Thorley said.
“I don’t like to overthink what other people do but if I see something that’s good or that’s intelligent or that would make my life easier on the pitch, then inevitably that helps.”
Thorley won the Premiership’s Young Player of the Season award in 2019 and was the Premiership’s top try scorer the following year with 11.
He missed out on selection for the 2019 World Cup after injuring his knee, before being awarded his first England cap during the 2020 Six Nations in the win over Italy.
Despite being in and around the wider England training squad since, he has yet to pull on the national shirt again.
“I think had I not been injured, I think there would have been a chance I could have put my hand up [for the autumn internationals],” Thorley added.
“The way I play rugby, probably similar to someone like a Jack Nowell, it’s quite abrasive, I get involved. I think that’s probably exposed me a bit to these injuries.
“I’ve never had a soft tissue injury from running, any injury I’ve ever had is from contact. That’s something I’ve been thinking about and seeing how can I improve my recovery, how can I improve the way I play so as to not make that happen.”