Many of Harlequins squad were at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday thanks to Gatorade, to watch a training session performed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Florida based NFL franchise who take on the Chicago Bears this Sunday at Wembley Stadium. Among them was young Quins star Luke Wallace, who has made quite an impact on the Aviva Premiership so far this season with his performances. Ben Coles caught up with Wallace, (on the far left), to discuss how he felt everything was going so far:
A confessed New Orleans Saints fan, Wallace has keen to keep his choice of team under wraps whilst interacting with the Buccaneers players. Back on the rugby pitch however, he has been a key part of Harlequins unbeaten run so far of 7 wins from 7 in all competitions, a feat he rightly describes as fantastic, but it nearly didn’t turn out that way for the 22 year old openside. “I spent last season down at Esher, and was meant to be down there this season, but Will Skinner got injured in the opening match and so I’ve just come in and taken my chance.”
Wallace was quick to praise his team-mates for helping him to achieve such a positive start to the season, stating that; “Everyone’s been really helpful, and there’s a lot of good players in the back row; Skinner, Chris Robshaw, Tom Guest to name a few, and their influence and advice has been amazing.”
Of course with Will Skinner coming back to full fitness, as well Samoan flanker Maurie Fa’asavalu returning from an impressive Rugby World Cup campaign, Wallace is more than aware of the hard work he needs to put in to keep the shirt, citing consistency as the most important factor to keep him in the side. It has been his tenacious attitude thus far that has drawn so much adulation from players and critics alike. Two tries against Gloucester in Quins big home win a few weeks ago showed that he’s not just all about dominating the ruck area either, though when it comes to what type of openside flanker camp he belongs to, it’s definitely in the one including McCaw, Pocock and the rest.
“The praise that I’ve had so far has honestly been surprising. I see myself as a traditional fetching 7. Over the past few years I feel that there has been a lot of ball carrying sevens in club and international Rugby, and whilst I can also play that way I quite like being that link man with the backs.”
When pointed out to him that England currently have a real lack of quality fetching 7s behind captain Lewis Moody though, Wallace was naturally quick to indicate that his mind had not yet wandered into thinking about running out at Twickenham. “I really haven’t though about it much to be honest. All the top nations at the moment though have that kind of openside flanker in their sides, the man stealing ball at the breakdown, and that’s definitely something that England need, whoever plays in the 7 shirt.”
Wallace’s modesty may have got the better of him for now, but more performances in the manner that he’s produced so far and his inclusion with the national setup is a strong possibility in the near future.
by Ben Coles
Gatorade, official performance partner of the AVIVA Premiership and the NFL, brought together Luke Wallace and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players to compare training regimes ahead of the Pepsi Max International Series at Wembley.