The England Elite Player Squad and the Saxons Squad joined up recently in Loughborough and it was such a great opportunity to be involved.
My nerves were eased slightly as I had the chance to meet up with a few good mates from the U20 England squad: guys including George Ford, Joe Launchbury and Christian Wade, and on the drive up to Loughborough I also had the company of another Saxon from the Worcester squad, Matt Mullan. It was really good to have him selected, and it meant that I wasn’t as nervous as I could have been.
We all arrived on the Sunday night and had an initial meeting, getting to know the other guys and the coaches set out their objectives.
The training was pretty tough, especially Monday morning with the fitness test. Everyone tends to get a little nervous the night before knowing that was coming up, and it was nice to get it out of the way early, so we could all enjoy the rest of the camp.
The test itself involves a hard anaerobic test: basically, a lot of repetition of various shuttles, getting steadily harder. Lots of lactic acid builds up in the legs and it’s really hard on the heart and the lungs. I fared in the middle of the road, which I was reasonably happy with, but it’s still early season.
I was really impressed with the whole England set-up, and it was good to be able to get up to speed with the attack and defence systems without the pressure of a tournament or internationals looming. They seem to be simple but effective and it feels nice to have learnt them, as it makes you feel part of it all.
We reviewed the tour to South Africa during the camp and identified things to work on looking forward. It was all pretty positive, even if results hadn’t quite gone our way – the guys on the tour had done some good work, especially in the last test, but there obviously still things for us all to improve on.
There aren’t any Saxons games until next year, so my main aim for the foreseeable future is to play well for Worcester and keep in the England coaches’ minds until the next meet up.
We’re getting closer to the season now, and the mood within the Warriors squad is still great, training is a lot more physical and we are all enjoying it that extra bit.
We beat Cardiff in our first pre-season match, which was made more special as our old forwards coach, Phil Davies, is now the Director of Rugby at the Blues. I was water boy for that one after being away with England, but it was good to come off the bench against the Scarlets at the weekend.
My shoulder definitely needs to get some game time so we know whether it will stand up to rigours of full contact, but I’m really positive and very much looking forward to the season ahead.