Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley has total belief in his ability to see off allcomers and book his place on England’s World Cup odyssey to Japan.
Uncapped and by no means assured of a place in England’s training squad, let alone a seat on the plane, Thorley’s chances of battling past Eddie Jones’ favoured flyers are in the bagllance.
However, the 22-year-old lacks nothing in confidence and after enjoying a stellar breakthrough campaign at Kingsholm, and having trained with England throughout the Six Nations, the London-born flyer is ready to make his pitch to Eddie Jones.
After being named in BT Sport’s Premiership team of the season Thorley told The Rugby Paper: “I’ve got my strengths and my X-factor so I’ve got to keep developing and believing in that, keep getting faster, bigger and stronger and keep gaining a better feel for the game.
“There are going to be five outside backs chosen for the World Cup and probably nine or ten guys who could be there. But you’ve just got to be driven and do everything you can to find an edge – and constantly believe in yourself.
“I have to believe that I can get to Japan and while I had a bit of a slow start to the season, I’ve just tried to use that as extra fuel. Everyday when I wake up, I remember what the goal is and I’m using the World Cup as my motivation.
“I’ve had a recent knee injury but I want to make myself as resilient as I possibly can be this summer, feel strong and then it’s anyone’s game; you’ve just got to train well and if you get an opportunity to play, play well and control the controllables.
“It’s important not to overthink these things too much but if I did get the chance to go to Japan for the World Cup, I’d grab it with both hands and thrive.”
That Thorley is even in with a chance of a World Cup spot owes everything to faith that has been shown in him by Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann.
Under the South African, Thorley’s dazzling footwork and incursions off the wing have thrilled the Kingsholm faithful – a product, he says, of a desire to inspire.
Thorley explained: “It’s been a phenomenal season. At Gloucester we’ve done better than we have for quite a few seasons by making the play-offs but it’s the way we’ve done that that’s been really special and with Johan at the top you always have fun.
“We had a few guys come in like Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert and Danny Cipriani, who added to the squad, and we had a lot of continuity through pre-season when Johan was able to put forward his ‘play to inspire’ ethos, which we all buy into.
“When we go on the pitch now, everyone is trying to inspire each other and our supporters and that’s been the biggest psychological shift. Gloucester in the past have been seen as a bit of a soft touch, but we’re countering that now and it’s in the past.”
Should Thorley get the call to join England’s World Cup training camp this summer, he will view it as another opportunity to impress in his incredible year.
Thorley added: “Being involved during the Six Nations was special and although I haven’t had the chance to get out on the pitch with England yet, I learnt so much from Eddie about what I need to do to become a world-class international player.
“Initially, because I didn’t know many of the players, I was really apprehensive going into that Test environment, but all the guys were awesome and made me feel part of it quite quickly.
“Just being around that environment where everyone is pushing themselves acted as a catalyst for myself and enabled me to reassess how I was doing things.
“You’re always looking for extra one or two per centers but being with England made me realise I could achieve those gains in a lot more areas than I thought – and that’s the challenge I face now if I want to get into that squad for Japan.”
NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images