Gloucester’s injury-riddled season has seen their academy players step up to the mark. Players like Henry Walker, Lloyd Evans and Aaron Hinkley have all proved they’ve got what it takes. Walker and Evans spoke to the media on how they’ve developed as Gloucester Rugby academy players growing as senior squad share experience.
Lloyd Evans relishing chance for extended game time
Lloyd Evans has had a good run of games this season despite being blighted by an injury. Looking ahead to Bath he explained how much he’s relishing the opportunity for more game time saying, ”It was nice to have a good game against Castres and get back out there after a bit of a lay-off. It’s great being back on the pitch and playing with the boys, hopefully now I’ll get a run of games and hit some form.”
Senior players passing on tips
It’s no trade secret that the elder players in squads pass down information, but Lloyd Evans has been speaking to Matt Banahan about playing at The Rec to enhance his game plan.
”The likes of Matt Banahan is a good man to talk to about The Rec. Throughout the training week you pick up little things that you can work on going into the weekend. We’re a young team, we’ll have a lot of enthusiasm and we’re looking forward to it.
”Someone like Matt Banahan has played at that ground for years so he’ll know the surface, what the weather is like, so you ask them questions about that and feed it into your game.
”You’re always trying to gain these experiences. I’ve only ever come off the bench at The Rec, so it’ll be a new situation for me. I’ve just got to do my processes and approach the game as I usually do and then take it in my stride.”
Gloucester tactics suit Evans’ style
Head coach Johan Ackermann is known for his expansive style of rugby, but Evans explains just how well suited he is to the game plan: “How we’re trying to play suits me as a fly half. Looking at opportunities, being able to run and kick at the right times. It’s all about scanning and taking the opportunities and having that confidence from the coaches to make mistakes but have your eyes up.”
”It’s another game to get some experience and hopefully I’ll play well and keep on growing as a player.”
Danny Cipriani impact immeasurable
Since arriving in the summer Danny Cipriani has transformed Gloucester’s attack into a consistent fighting machine. His experiences of past games haven’t gone unnoticed as Evans explains. ”His impact’s been huge throughout the squad. As a fellow fly half just watching him train and seeing what he does is very impressive. The way he explains how he plays is also really impressive and how he communicates it to me and the other players. I’ve just got to keep asking him for advice and he’s happy to help everyone.
”I’ve always really liked the way he plays. As a young rugby player growing up you watch what he does and analyse that and it’s very much the same now. How he trains and how he thinks about the game so that’s really good for me.
”His attack play and decisions at the line, getting players around him to attack how he wants to, he’s good at communicating that.”
Henry Walker thrilled with experience
With injuries mounting throughout the season Henry Walker has had a good run of games and has exceeded his own expectations. He said, ”It’s great getting the experience at my age and it’s the same for Ciaran Knight and Alex Seville as to be getting this much first team experience, we’re all pleased.
“It’s completely different to being at Cinderford a few years ago and then again to Hartpury last year and now pro. There’s lots of different variables like age, size because at a professional level you do this for a job. Skill wise it’s so much tougher compared to National league where you’re only training twice a week.”
”I was hoping to have a few games, but with the amount of injuries we’ve had it’s given me some fantastic game time.”
Hooker Henry Walker named to start as England U20s begin World Rugby U20 Championships against Argentina on Wednesday
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) May 29, 2018
Junior players ‘Learning on the Job’
Having plenty of experienced players around him has helped Walker grow as he plays as he explains, ”You pick up a lot with the likes of Fraser Balmain, Chibba [James Hanson] and Franco Marais. They’ve got a lot of experience, so you learn a lot from them which is handy in big game scenarios.”
Gloucester Rugby Academy players growing as senior squad share experience
A sign of a good team bond is how well everyone mixes together. Gloucester have seemingly found a perfect blend with the senior players not afraid to help the younger lads and vice versa. Walker saying, ”Being around boys who’ve played at international level is good as you learn a lot from them, but they also ask us [Younger players] questions which is useful, and this is an environment where we always talk on what we can improve on and what we do well.
”I’ll ask them on what I can do to improve, and they’ll ask me what they can do to help me as a hooker with the lineouts, scrums and around the park. Talking to the nines on what type of ball you prefer going in the scrum whether I want it quicker, slower or more direct to me.”
Both players will be hoping to continue their good fortunes as Gloucester take on Bath in a match that could well see them qualify for the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals.
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