Breakthrough just the start for Harpenden’s latest Man in Black Ralph Adams-Hale

Ralph Adams-Hale during the Premiership Rugby Cup final against Northampton Saints. Picture: MATT IM

Ralph Adams-Hale during the Premiership Rugby Cup final against Northampton Saints. Picture: MATT IMPEY/WIRED PHOTOS - Credit: Matt Impey /

A first try for Saracens may not have been enough to get him a Heineken Cup semi-final spot against Munster but there is no denying that it has been a memorable year for Ralph Adams-Hale.

The Harpenden man made his first Gallagher Premiership start in December against Wasps and has featured a number of times since, including a try-scoring appearance off the bench at Bristol Bears one week ago.

And when he reflects on the moment he found out he would be in that team to face Wasps, a smile floods across his face.

He told HertsAdSport: “I’d just had a gym session and the forwards were about to go through our line-outs and everything at the start of the week.

“Mark McCall came up to me and said ‘you’ve been playing well and we’ve been impressed with you so we’re going to start you on Saturday’.

“Obviously my heart was going and it was really exciting.

“I did the whole week of training and I wanted to impress but at the same time I didn’t want to get injured.

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“I’ve had games in the Premiership Cup so I’ve had experience of training with the first team but it’s a step up again to the Premiership.

“But the day of the game there was just nerves and I just wanted to get on the pitch. I didn’t want to be waiting around. I was itching to get on.

“Once you get going, everything clicks in and you’ve done it a million times.”

The 22-year-old admitted he felt his chance was coming after the early part of his career was blighted by serious injuries.

And ironically he believes those set-backs may have played a part in his current success.

He said: “The injuries probably helped build my strength up as I was going to the gym for four months almost.

“When I came in I was probably not the right size for a prop, not quite big enough.

“I used to back row when I was 16 and then I moved to prop and that’s when I started going to the gym and putting on a decent amount of size.

“That means I’m more confident in myself and therefore more confident on the pitch and also I’m less likely to be injured because I’m bigger and stronger.”

And the with the World Cup looming at the start of next season he sees no reason why he cannot push again after the summer.

He said: “There will be a lot of opportunities to play a lot of games and put my foot forward as a regular match-day 23 player.

“It’s going to be competitive of course but that is what drives you to beat the people in your position to the one of two spots available each weekend.

“If you coast through then that doesn’t push you and doesn’t help you improve.”