With a few more weeks to endure before the competitive English rugby season gets underway, we decided to take a look at 5 youngsters from each Aviva side that had the potential to make themselves known for a starting, first team spot.
We begin by looking at the bottom end of the Premiership with the Warriors. Already demonstrating that they are moving towards fresher pastures at the club after a superb performance in the JP Morgan 7s at Kingsholm, Ryan’s new look outfit certainly have some talent to offer. With home-grown stars like Kvesic now gone too, it’s time for the upcoming talent to push for places.
Jeremy Becasseau, Prop-
Recently turned 22, this new signing from Stade Francais has a lot to offer around the park. With potential to become a superb scrummager too, Jeremy is set to challenge Loose-head Prop’s George Porter and other new recruit, Ofa Fainga’anuku for a starting spot. With Mullan now at Adams Park, he certainly has big shoes to fill, but has had experience against the best, featuring in 11 games in all last season in the Amlin and Top 14. With minimal history in the top leagues, it’ll be entertaining to see just how talented this young man is!
Ben Howard, Wing/Full Back-
The England U20 has soon become one of the more experienced players within the side. Playing a part in the winning U20 side in the recent JWC, Ben Howard has now become one of the household names at the club. Versatile in the Back Three, Howard has played rugby in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, touring with Warwick School and has already played against Leicester at Welford Road, perhaps the toughest task of them all. With Warriors having only a handful of names suited to the Back Three, it’s time for Howard to really show his potential.
Max Stelling, Centre-
Part of the 7s squad along with Ben Howard, Stelling was one of the particular stars of the night, getting on the score sheet and demonstrating his attacking dynamism and power with ball in hand. Stelling scored an astounding 6 minute hat-trick last season against Amlin group opponents Bizkaia Gernika, and looked good at his spell in Jersey, scoring 3 tries in 10 games. With injuries always hampering the first team, Stelling could potentially receive a few call ups for Premiership appearances.
James Stephenson, Wing-
With 15 scores in 17 games, speedster Stephenson is now ready to give it a go in the top English league. The 23 year old man followed ex-Bedford compatriot Josh Bassett into the Premiership and has made huge strides in such a small space of time, moving from National One to the Premiership in 2 seasons. After impressing on Thursday at Gloucester, Stephenson can now focus on challenging the likes of Josh Drauniniu for a place. Will his pace and impressive finishing make him a regular starter?
Mike Williams, Lock-
The most unknown of all the signings, Mike Williams played his rugby for the Tuks and Blue Bulls in South Africa. The 6’5 Second Row will be competing with Percival, Chris Jones and Schofield, but with Gillies now retired, maybe Williams will get Premiership action sooner than expected. I imagine most fans are pretty much in the dark about Mike, but it does whet the appetite thinking about what he and these other 4 lads especially, have to offer.
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