England rugby star hoping for good news from Saracens after ‘incredible’ year

Nick Isiekwe picked up the man of the match award for England U18s against Wales. Picture: ENGLAND R

Nick Isiekwe picked up the man of the match award for England U18s against Wales. Picture: ENGLAND RUGBY - Credit: Archant

A future rugby star from St Albans has his fingers crossed about a contract with Saracens – after an “incredible” year.

Nick Isiekwe has spent the last year splitting his time between the Saracens Academy and England U18s, as well as fitting in study for his A Levels.

But as his rugby for the year comes to an end, and revision for his exams takes centre stage, the 17-year-old took the time to tell the Herts Ad about a year which culminated last week with a 43-9 win in Swansea over Wales to clinch the U18 Five Nations title.

He said: “It’s good that I’m able to get these opportunities and to represent my country is a huge honour.

“Hopefully my friends and family are proud of me.

“Being in that environment is incredible and you definitely thrive and improve.

“Every time you take a step up the ladder, there is a massive increase in intensity.

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“But it’s just another challenge and if you are a sportsman, you thrive on the challenge.

“If you enjoy it to start with, then it may be a challenge but you get enjoyment out of it.

“However, you have to keep working.”

The former Verulamians and Old Albanian player has said he has been very lucky to have worked with and alongside some huge names in the world of rugby.

And the success of Saracens club-mate Maro Itoje, a person Isiekwe says is a huge role-model, has spurred the youngster on.

“Just to see someone so young doing what he does is incredible,” he said. “You aspire to be someone like him.

“I’m very proud to be at the same club as someone like him, who is so young and doing so well.

“It really gives young players like me the inspiration to kick on.

“[World Cup winner] Richard Hill is my mentor. He really guides me. He tells me what I’m doing wrong, what I need to improve and what I’m doing well.

“When you are young it’s all about learning and taking the advice on board, everything that the coaches tell you, just take that in and absorb it.”

A third inspiration to Isiekwe is his teacher at Haileybury College, the former Welsh No.8 Michael Owen.

“He’s such a big presence at the school and he’s taught me a lot,” he said.

“He’s fantastic; it’s really good to have him around the school, helping me through my studies alongside what he’s taught me about rugby.

“It’s a perfect balance.”

For now exams in psychology and PE are the focus and the second row is set to “knuckle down to some solid revision”.

He is hoping for good news on results day as well as a positive phone call from Saracens to see if he will be offered a developmental contract.

He said: “With the coaching I’ve had round me it’s definitely helped me progress this season and hopefully going on I can make more.

“I’m definitely enjoying myself. I love playing rugby; it’s what I’ve done for a very long time now, going down to the park chucking a ball around.

“The opportunities I’ve been given have been incredible. I can’t be more grateful for them and hopefully there are more to come.

“We’ll see what happens.”