Academy prospects delighted with England call-up

Talented Academy prospects Ben Howard and Josh Watkins have spoken of their delight after being called-up to the England Under 20 Elite Player Squad for the rest of this season.

The players were selected as part of a 32-man squad that will look to defend the Under 20 Six Nations title in the New Year before heading to France for the IRB Junior World Championship next June.

Both players were in action for Worcester Cavaliers last night against Northampton Wanderers, with Howard standing out as one of the best performers for the home side.

The 19-year-old charged down a conversion attempt from Will Hooley before finishing a free-flowing team move to score a late try.

Both players headed to an England Under 20 training camp this morning and admitted they were excited to be part of the set-up.

Howard said: “It’s a massive honour. I’ve put in a lot of hard-work during pre-season so it’s all come to fruition and I want to make the most of the training camps.

“It will help me because I will be able to experience a bit more of a pressurised environment. It will help me develop and improve and if I show I can cope and thrive in the bigger, pressurised matches, it will hopefully aid my selection at club level.

Howard joined the Warriors Academy on non-contract terms last year after impressing during his days in the Elite Player Development Group.

He is now contracted as an Academy player and has made a big impact thanks to his high work-rate and skilful displays as a wing and full-back.

He added: “I would like to get an England Under 20 cap this season and it would be nice to get some first-team action at Warriors as well. I want to get as much experience as possible and keep improving.”

Watkins also admitted he was over the moon with his selection: “It’s a major honour to play for your country. It’s the pinnacle of your age group and it means a lot to me,” he said.

“It will give me a lot of experience. At 18, I’m a year younger than the other players so it will be a real physical test for me.

The youngster also said he is hoping his experience for the Cavaliers will help him to improve over the next year.

He added: “I want to play A League matches all season and stay injury free so I can develop as much as possible. If I can play a cup game with the first-team, that would be a huge boost.”