Oaklands’ Perkins signs Saracens contract

Rugby student George Perkins

Rugby student George Perkins - Credit: Archant

Oaklands College student George Perkins has graduated from the Saracens Rugby Academy to the first team.

Rugby student George Perkins, Director of Rugby Dave Hesketh and Alex Brown

Rugby student George Perkins, Director of Rugby Dave Hesketh and Alex Brown - Credit: Archant

The 18-year-old has been with the Academy for five years but last week signed a first-team contract with the Aviva Premiership side.

Speaking to the Herts Ad last week, Perkins, who also appeared for England’s U18 side in their win against Scotland, praised the college’s rugby programme for helping him realise his dream.

“I’ve been in the set up for five years so to get a contract is a dream come true,” he said.

“I’ll be in full-time training with Saracens. I don’t expect to be in the first team but hopefully I can play for Storm [the Saracens’ second team] or maybe even the LV side and then loaned out to other clubs, such as Old Albanian, who share a training ground with Saracens.”

He added: “Dave [Hesketh, director of rugby at Oaklands] and Jakes Sharp helped me massively. I was quite raw when I got here but they have changed me into a rugby player.”

In another success for Oaklands’ rugby programme, Alex Brown has been selected for the England Clubs and Schools.

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It is his first foray into the England set up and he is hoping it can lead to higher honours in the future.

“To be selected is a huge achievement and an honour for me,” said Brown.

“Since I’ve been at college I’ve been pushing and working hard to get there. We have got a few camps and then we travel to France to play France and Ireland.

He added: “I want to keep aiming higher, to get to George is and try to get on the radar [of clubs].”

Perkins’ and Browns’ achievements are the latest in a long line of success for Oaklands College’s rugby programme – last year they had four players sign with Saracens and a fifth with Sale Sharks.

Hesketh said: “What we try to do is teach the lads the value of hard work; that the time and effort they put in pays off. These two lads epitomise everything we want the programme to be: they’re good academically but also buy into the culture we have here, in terms of working hard, taking things on themselves and driving things forward so it’s not just what we do in sessions

“They were both raw in term of understanding and what they needed to do; that takes time and effort to learn but they’re getting their reward now, which is fantastic.”

The success of the programme, according to Hesketh, lies at the feet of the players.

“We have a holistic programme and the lads have to grow up because onus is on them to their time, communicate with coaches, watch their nutrition, recovery and organise gym programmes,” he explained.

He added: “The aim of the programme is to improve each individual player – we want good players to be exceptional and average players to be good.

“We have three teams at the college so whatever level they come in, we have something that suits and benefits everyone. Combining that with the academic side, they leave with a qualification so they can got into higher education, full-time employment or play club rugby.

“One of the best bits of feedback we get is how much the lads grow up, mature and improve their self awareness; it’s something I’m very proud of.”