One player looking to make his mark this season is senior Academy fly half, Theo Brophy-Clews. The 18 year-old has an impressive rugby CV for someone so young. He has represented and captained England at under 18 level and last season made his London Irish debut in the LV=Cup fixture away at Scarlets where he scored a try to become the Club’s youngest ever try scorer.
Since July, Theo has been training full time with the first team and despite finding transition challenging, like any young player he is relishing the opportunity.
“It has been really tough to be honest, but also a massive learning curve. Getting thrown in at the deep end is brilliant for a young player and to get stuck in with the first team boys has been a huge learning experience for me.”
Theo spent the week in Cork earlier in August with the squad training at Fota Island before being named to start against Munster in the pre-season fixture at Irish Independent Park.
“It was awesome, playing 60 minutes gave me a massive responsibility. I had to learn quickly and ensure I was doing my jobs properly and to make sure I was doing my best for the team.”
Playing age grade rugby is no mean feat, however the step up in intensity and physicality when playing against the sports elite athletes is substantial as the fly half alludes to.
“I suppose when you get hit you definitely know about it. I’m not a big guy, even for an 18 year old, so stepping up to this level is huge in terms of physicality. That is one side of it, the fitness levels is another, even though the guys are a lot bigger than age grade rugby, they can definitely move as well. So it is physical, but the speed of the game is definitely a step up.”
The Abingdon School graduate is one of four fly halves challenging for a starting berth this season, however as talented and ambitious as Theo is, he remains realistic and humble in terms of his development.
“To be honest I just want to play as many games as I can at the moment, whether that be A League, which will be a huge opportunity, or be any opportunity I get for the first team. I’m looking to be involved with the England U20s this year, so we will have to see how I play to look to get into that squad.”
Tickets for London Irish's opening Aviva Premiership fixture against Leicester on Sunday 18th October go on general sale on Friday 11th September at 9am. Click here to purchase or call the Ticket Office on 01189 681 016