Bath prop Lewis Boyce says he will owe Welsh legend Adam Jones a huge debt of gratitude if he goes on to fulfil his international ambitions with England.
Boyce, 23, joined Bath in the summer from Harlequins, where he progressed under scrum guru and former Wales tighthead Jones after arriving from Championship outfit Yorkshire Carnegie in 2017.
An England U20s Junior World Cup winner in 2016, Boyce is on the Red Rose radar. However, he candidly admits his scrummaging had not been up to scratch before he met Jones.
“Adam’s the reason why I am where I am today as far as scrummaging goes,” Boyce told The Rugby Paper. “When I first joined Quins, even though I’m a prop, my scrummaging was probably one of the weaker sides of my game, especially moving to the Premiership.
“It was a big learning curve coming from the Championship, but Adam was class and he’s been a big influence on me and Kyle Sinckler. He’d spend hours going through my games, proving what I could do.
“I’ve kept his points in mind since I left Quins and just tried to be consistent.
“On a personal level, he’s been a top coach and a top boy and he’ll always be someone I’ll look up to and have a lot of time for.”
Sinckler is now an established international with England and the Lions, but Boyce remains in the foothills of his career. He hopes his move to Bath, with ex-England scrum coach Neal Hatley now on board, will take him to the next level.
Straight-talking Teessider Boyce said: “I’m here to be the best I can be. We’re here to try and win the league and if I can keep progressing individually, it’ll hopefully show the England coaches what I can do.
“I really enjoyed my time at Harlequins and the players I played with. I’ve got a lot of love for Paul Gustard, too, but the opportunity came for me to come to Bath and while it was tough to leave, I felt I could progress my rugby more.
“Neal Hatley is one of the best scrum coaches around and he’s a good bloke to be working with as well. About two years ago I joined up with the England squad and enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to working with him regularly.”
With Bath’s scrum showing signs of becoming a force, Boyce added: “If you look at our front row compared to the rest of the league, we’re probably one of the youngest and people will look at that as being inexperienced, but I don’t believe that.
“When I first came here, (rugby director) Stuart Hooper felt it was an area where Bath had struggled. We didn’t have that power play he wanted but with the boys we’ve brought in, our scrum’s become a weapon.
“If we can physically intimidate teams with our scrum and set-piece, even before a game starts, it’s definitely a big advantage. Neal Hatley’s added to that by bringing a mentality to not only compete, but to dominate up front.”
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