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Young Gun: Nick Isiekwe – England U20s lock

Nick Isiekwe wants to play at the highest level and he only needs to look at Saracens teammate Maro Itoje to know dreams can quickly turn to reality.

Like Itoje in 2014, second-row Isiekwe, 18, embarks on a Six Nations campaign with England U20s looking to end his age group career on a high before making the step up to senior rugby.

In the three years since, Itoje has become a mainstay for Saracens and England and Isiekwe reveals he is grateful to be able to draw on such experience each day at training.

“Maro was in the U20s only three years ago so it proves the pathway from age group to the top works,” said Isiekwe, who shares a similar physical satture as Itoje at 6ft 5in and 17st 7lb.

“It’s very inspiring for a young guys like me to see what he’s achieved in such a short period of time.

“The Saracens academy is a great learning environment and I’m enjoying it very much. All the senior guys are teaching their ways and it’s up to us to take it on board and pick up all we can to progress.

“Playing in the tight five means there is a lot to learn when you move from schools to senior rugby but I’m lucky to be able to pick the brains of guys like Maro, George Kruis and Jim Hamilton.

“They’ve got a lot of knowledge about the game at the highest level which can only be good for a young guy looking to do something similar.”

Playing for Old Albanians, Isiekwe was spotted by Saracens aged 13 and he’s been at the club ever since.

He left Haileybury College last summer and joined the club’s senior academy full-time in a bid to earn his first professional contract.

He admits the step up to senior rugby is his biggest challenge but he’s                   relishing the chance to test his skills against big men playing in National One with Ampthill before sharing them with his U20s teammate.

He added: “I played with a few of the players at age group level for many years which makes it very enjoyable. It’s nice to go through the ranks together.

“Playing in the Six Nations will be a good experience for us. We’re keen to build our own legacy after the guys last season won the World Cup.

“We’re all in the same boat now trying to cut      it at senior level. I’m       getting most of my game time playing for Ampthill where I’ve learned a lot.

“This season is my first playing against men and it’s very different from school. The forwards are a lot bigger and more physical but you’ve got to think on your feet and find ways to deal with it during games.

“I’m working hard at Saracens to make sure my body is ready for senior rugby. It’s pretty hard and getting used to play at this level is my biggest challenge right now but I love challenges.”

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