As well as the established and experienced members of the Aviva Premiership squads there are a number of talented and exciting individuals emerging from the academy systems into the first teams.
Due to the late start to the Aviva Premiership competition the schedule for all sides is unrelenting through until May 2016 therefore every Director of Rugby/Head Coach will need to make full use of their squad. Here at Fifteen Rugby we take a look at five individuals to watch during the course of this 2015/16 season.
Hartpury College have a long history of producing excellent rugby players and one of their more recent graduates, Lewis Ludlow, started last weekend’s Aviva Premiership opener against the Newcastle Falcons and in the Number Eight jersey delivered a head turning performance. Obviously Gloucester Rugby are well stocked in their back row with individuals like Sione Kalamafoni, Ross Moriaty and Ben Morgan however the latter Internationals will need have their work loads managed due to the RBS 6 Nations competition. Lewis is a passionate individual, a hard ball carrier and someone that brings a great physicality and work rate in defence. It was only his second Aviva Premiership start and there’s plenty more to come from Gloucester Rugby’s young powerhouse.
Charlie Ewels has been on Bath Rugby’s radar for long time and after he finished at Bryanston, he stepped into the academy full time. Charlie credits a number of key individuals with his rugby development and one that has had a great influence is Bath’s Academy Director, Danny Grewcock. Ewels has packed a lot into his twenty years, he has won a Junior World Championship and captained the side that finished as runners up to New Zealand earlier this year. This season will be his first full season after graduating out of Bath Rugby’s academy and he’ll be wanting to step up another level given the competition in the second row. The environment at Bath Rugby is perfect to a low Charlie to continue to develop with Stuart Hooper, Dave Attwood, and Dom Day three highly experienced individuals to learn off and with the season that we have ahead the platform is there for Ewels to really place his stamp on the Premiership competition.
The Northampton Saints’ packs are always ones that other Aviva Premiership sides fear with their scrummage being a particularly powerful weapon. Dorian West knows the dark arts better than most and this will benefit Paul Hill who joins this season from Yorkshire Carnegie. Paul was part of Prince Henry’s Grammar’s rugby programme run in conjunction with Carnegie and has been hailed by many as ‘the best tighthead prop’ that England U20s have seen. Paul ticks all of the boxes when it comes to the scrummage. His technique and power had his U20s opponents on toast and training every day with Kieran Brookes and Alex Corbiserio will push Hill to greater heights. The dark arts of the scrummage aren’t understood by all however this twenty year old has knowledge far beyond his years and one that will sky rocket at the Northampton Saints.
At Wasps Rugby Alex Lozowski has big shoes to fill, being the son of a former club man and England centre Rob however there is no question that he is paving his way based on his own exceptional talent and nothing else. Alex was part of Chelsea FC’s football academy from the age of 10 to 16 and after taking his A Levels at Watford Grammar School he combined an economics degree with rugby at Leeds University. In 20 appearances for Wasps in his first season last year Alex notched up a staggering 102 points for the club and this year’s pre-season has looked just as sharp. Alex is a gifted footballer and the manner in which he plays the game bares more than a passing resemblance to two individuals in England’s current squad; Henry Slade and George Ford. Off the tee Alex is assured and has great distance and combined this with strong kicking out of hand, great hands and vision. Needless to say Wasps’ young fly half is the real deal and when he arrives onto the pitch this season the competition will know it!
Maro Itoje’s rise to prominence has happened at breakneck speed and it is nothing less than the young man deserves given his talent and temperament. Former Harrow pupil Maro is a unique individual and a born leader, he may be quietly spoken but when he speaks everyone listens and this is why Mark McCall handed him the Aviva Premiership captaincy in Round 1. On the field Maro is an athletic forward with the ability to play in the second and back rows and has a work rate up there with the best in the Aviva Premiership. In the same way that Alex has done, Maro is successfully combining rugby and studying as he is currently working for a politics degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies. With a taste of the England camp in June this year there’s no question that this young man’s sights will be on the RBS 6 Nations and pushing for full International honours in the 2015/16 season.
By Emma Thurston
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