Youngsters impress England
IT is a big season for five Eastern Counties youngsters who are on the cusp of a Northampton Saints academy place and potential England honours.
Step forward Dan Lewis, Austin Beckett, Karl Wilkins, George Wacokecoke and Tom Dufficy who all starred for the Saints Under-16s in a recentrugby festival against the best young players in the country.
So much so that the fivesome caught the eye of England Under-18s supremo John Fletcher, according to Simon Sinclair, elite player development group coach at the Saints.
Sinclair said: “I have got high hopes for all of them. They have worked so hard to get to where they want to be.
“The next step for them all is to impress our coaches up until Christmas in a bid to get into the junior Saints academy.”
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But while the youngsters will be doing all they can to perform well at both club and school level, it might even lead to bigger things – with Beckett, Wacokecoke and Wilkins having already attended an England development training camp.
Sinclair explained: “Since the festival, I have had a chat with John Fletcher who I know was really impressed with Austin and George in particular. He will be watching all these youngsters with interest.”
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The five all played their part in the festival, which was held at Leicester Tigers and included Under-16s sides from Sale, Newcastle, Worcester and Leeds.
Fijian-born Wacokecoke, who plays his rugby with Colchester and St Joseph’s School in Ipswich, scored two tries while Beckett, another St Jo’s pupil alongside playing for Sudbury RFC, scored a hat-trick against Sale. Their final match in the three-game tournament saw a defeat against a strong Leeds team.
Lewis, who also goes to St Joseph’s College, Wilkins and Dufficy all play their club rugby at Colchester with the latter attending Ipswich School.
Sinclair said the festival gave everyone a chance to see how they were developing compared to other academies across the country.