Five to watch as England U18 host Scotland U18 at Billingham RUFC on Sunday (2pm).
Ahead of England’s game against Scotland, we have picked out five players to watch. It is by no means an extensive list, frankly all 23 are worthy of discussion such is the quality of the squad and each individual.
It is simply five players that have impressed and excited us over the years and that we are particularly looking forward to seeing in action on Sunday.
Which players are you most excited about from this U18 group? Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram and let us know!
Orlando Bailey – Bath & Beechen Cliff
Orlando Bailey forever sealed a place as a firm favourite here at Fifteen Rugby when he, almost single-handedly, took Thomas Hardye School to U15 Schools Vase glory a couple of years ago. He looked a prospect then and has continued to get better and better ever since. Moving to Beechen Cliff to sixth form he has been trusted by Bath in the Premiership Shield, all the while maintaining his ghost-like ability to slide through a gap. Comfortable at fly half and full back this smooth running man will be a nightmare coming off the bench against Scotland, one suspects.
Tom Curtis – Sale Sharks & Sedbergh
Curtis’ Sale Sharks professional contract was confirmed back in November. That’s how highly he is rated. A wonderful distributer and an easy runner, Curtis is one of those players that always seems to have time. Time and composure, his match-winning touchline conversion for Sedbergh to beat Wellington College on the day his pro contract announced was one of the highlights of the schools rugby season. He has bounced about a bit between ten and twelve, largely due to the sheer number of top class players that Sale and Sedbergh have and his own ability to adapt to different positions, but ten seems to be where he does his best work. A very silky operator.
Xavier Hastings – Bath & Bishop Wordsworth’s
When Bishop Wordsworth’s charged to the U18 Schools Cup finals in 2017, Hastings was a young U16 player, and yet was still clearly one of the stars of the side. Offers came in from all corners, but he stuck with Bishop Wordsworth’s and it looks to be paying off. Back in those U16 days he was bouncing between full back and number 8, which should give you some indication of the levels of both skill and physicality at his disposal. Now at the top end of the school ladder he has settled in the back row, but do not expect that to mean you will not see him fully expressing his wide array of skills on either side of the ball.
George Martin – Leicester Tigers & Brooksby Melton College
When people reflect on Leicester Tigers winning back to back U18 Academy League titles in a few years time and ask how they did it there is a good chance that one of the first answer people will give is ‘George Martin’. The second row is not a particularly easy place to stand out as a schoolboy unless you are a key ball carrier, in which case you often end up in the back row during your school years anyway. Now Martin is an excellent carrier, and has a seriously well rounded skillset, but he also has that quality that is so difficult to define and quantify and yet so easy to point out in some of the giants of the position, Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O’Connell, and the like – presence. Of course being a mountain of a man helps, and he certainly is that, but be under no illusions, it is no coincidence that Jim Mallinder has handed him the captaincy against Scotland. You’ll notice one name we did not add there, as a young Leicester Tigers and England U18 captain that inevitable comparison will come though, of course.
Sam Riley – Harlequins & St George’s College, Weybridge
Riley is a proper modern day hooker, good in the tight but with the sort of skillset that the likes of Dane Coles and Jamie George are almost making mandatory now. It looks pretty likely that, all being well, he is the long term answer for Quins at hooker. You see while the rest of the country has been, rightly, raving about a certain Alfie Barbeary, Quins have been cultivating a gem of their own. Riley was a key figure in St George’s run to the U18 Schools Bowl title last year showing not only quality but also great leadership, never an easy feat as a Lower 6th in a school side. A top class player.