With the London Double Header taking place this Saturday, we take a look at four of the Aviva Premiership’s young stars, destined to make an impact at Twickenham.
The wait is over. Friday night marked the start of the 2017/18 Premiership season and what a start it was.
We saw two thrilling encounters with Gloucester putting an end to Exeter’s 17-match win streak at Kingsholm. At the same time, the Newcastle Falcons ran riot at Kingston Park securing a bonus-point win against Worcester Warriors.
On Saturday, however, comes the main event, the London Double Header. Two matches, four teams all looking to secure their first win of the season and gain valuable momentum.
With a new season comes new opportunities for young players who have previously been on the fringes of squads to force their way into first teams and into the heart of their fans. I have picked out four young players who I expect to have huge seasons starting with big performances at today’s London Double Header.
Tom Collins – Northampton Saints
What Collins might lack in size and experience, he more than makes up for in pace. This fast young winger has been using his pace and footwork to dazzle defenders throughout pre-season.
Yet to make his mark on top flight rugby, Collins was sent to Australia this summer to get game time playing for amateur side Randwick. He has come back looking far sharper for the experience and seems ready to hit the ground running.
If the form which he has shown in recent friendlies for Saints can be emulated at HQ on Saturday, expect him to be causing the much lorded Saracens defence some problems.
Nathan Earle – Saracens
Fresh from his first experience with the senior England team this summer, where better for Nathan Earle to show Eddie Jones that he deserves more than just a place in the England squad than on the hallowed turf at Twickenham.
Size, strength and power are all attributes the young Saracens man has to boast about and his impressive performances for England u-20’s in the past showed that he is more than capable of making the next step up.
Saracens may have lost Chris Ashton at the end of last season but they have a man more than capable of taking his place in Earle.
Expect fireworks when he and Collins take to the pitch in the first half of the London Double Header.
Marcus Smith – Harlequins
Few players have had more written about them before their first professional start for their club than young Marcus Smith.
But at the age of 18, having only just completed his exams and left school, to already have Eddie Jones referring to him as England’s fourth choice fly-half is high praise indeed.
The youngster will be looking to live up to the hype and control the pace and tempo of the game when he takes to the field for the second installment of the London Double Header.
Likened to George Ford, Smith’s all court ability could ensure that Quin’s don’t suffer quite so badly from the loss of Nick Evans. Today could mark the start of the next great English fly-half’s career. Watch this space.
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi – London Irish
Hobbs-Awoyemi joined Irish last season and played a big part in helping them return to the Premiership so fast.
While his set-piece work is excellent for a man his age, his dynamism around the park brings a new dimension to the Exiles front-row. Learning from the likes of Petrus du Plessis, David Paice and Ben Franks, expect this loosehead to go on to big things.
Having helped England u-20’s to two world championships in 2013 and 2014, it’s finally his turn to see what he can do at premiership level and simply put, we expect him to excel.
It is just a matter of hours until we see these four take to the pitch to do battle with one another.
We’re expecting another huge London Double Header and huge seasons from all involved, especially this quartet stars of the future. It is not one to be missed!
James Richardson, Pundit Arena