“It was a great start for me and a great start for the club,” said the genial Munsterman who, co-captain for the season with Tom Wheatcroft, took the armband on the day when the centre was injured towards the end of the opening quarter and scored Cov’s fifth try in the 54-14 win over Loughborough Students.
“There’s a lot of stuff we need to improve on, we knew that Loughborough were going to man it up right to the end which probably showed us up fitness-wise in some parts, but we got the win and we’re happy with that.
“Tom’s big head got in the way of a bad tackle, but he got the ball away and we scored so fair play to him – he took the hit. We’re great mates, and I’m happy to be there to take the reins if needed, just as much as he would be for me.
“We want to keep working, to get to the next stage. We are always going to be striving for more, but it was a great start and its one week at a time with the focus now on Moseley this coming Saturday.
“I’m loving it here, we have a good bunch of boys and great fans – we really appreciate what they do, they’re a friendly bunch who give massive support, we can hear everything they say which is intimidating for the opposition and they give us a massive push and drive us on in the 60th and later minutes to get us over the line.”
Grace joined Cov in the summer after spending last season at Championship side Ealing Trailfinders, continuing a rugby adventure that began with age-group rugby at Clonmel.
“I’m a proud Munsterman, from Tipperary,” he said. “I started playing at Clonmel, my home town, and I was lucky enough to go to Rockwell College where I played six years of junior and senior rugby at probably the best level you can in Ireland at that age.
“I went through Munster Academy which was a really good experience and developed me into the player that Munster are renowned for, and from there I went to Exeter Chiefs where I was unlucky with injuries but learnt a new style and had an awesome experience.
“I moved back from there to Connacht, I absolutely loved being in Galway, and then went back to the UK, at Plymouth to start with, then further afield to London and now on to Cov.
“I’m just happy to be here and pushing on with my career. We got in touch through my agent, I met Rowland Winter early doors and discussed a few things, he liked what I had to offer and I liked what he said in terms of what he wants to do here with aspirations to be part of something successful.
“We’ve got a management that is very open-minded and a squad that’s striving to be the best we can – we’ve gelled together well, it’s a player-led team taking the advice, obviously, of the staff above us, and we’re willing to push on together and make it as professional an outfit as possible.”
The 29-year-old is sharing a house with some of the other players – something, he says, that has plusses and minuses.
“”It’s good for bonding and it’s a good crack – the bad thing is boys stealing your food ,and I’ve got to put up with young boys who can’t let Uni go. I’m the old man with the grey hair, trying to keep them in check.”