Saracens tyro Max Malins has identified All Blacks duo Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie as ideal role models in his bid for a first team place.
Versatile playmaker Malins, 22, has emerged as the next cab off the rank from the Saracens academy and has recently starred at full-back, from where his electric pace, eye for a gap and ability to break the line and score tries has impressed.
While England’s Owen Farrell and Alex Goode remain imperious in their occupation of the No.10 and 15 jerseys, jet-heeled Malins is rapidly stamping his own X-factor mark on proceedings as he chases down the experienced pair.
Malins said: “The Six Nations was a good period for me and although playing full-back was a bit different, I’d played there before at England U20s level and for the Saracens academy.
“There’s been some chat around what position I should play and a lot has been said about players who have the ability to switch between ten and 15, with Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie being good examples.
“I’m keeping my options open and we’ll see where my performances take me.”
One man in no doubt about where Malins’ future lies is Blackheath head coach James Shanahan, who had the player on loan at Old Albanian.
“He’s another Alex Goode,” Shanahan insists. “I had Alex for a season at Cambridge when he was 18 and he played fly-half as well, so when Max came to OAs it was like peas in a pod.
“Like Alex, he’s got that ability to get out of jail when there are players around him with great footwork and loads of pace. He’s just a really skilful player who works hard, is humble and has a big future for England shirt.”
Malins adds: “I’ve worked quite a lot on my speed at Saracens and that’s a big part of my game. I’d like to think I stress the line quite a bit.
“With ball in hand I’m able to draw or manipulate defenders and get myself through a gap or put other players through into space. It’s great to have guys like Alex Goode and Liam Williams to learn off and I’m getting good game time.”
NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images