Jack Bartlett has a way to go yet before he can be spoken of in the same breath as England’s Kyle Sinckler but the 19-year-old Gloucester tighthead already possesses a priceless advantage that may one day help him chase down the Harlequins man – versatility.
The son of former Navy prop Nick Bartlett, Jack actually played most of his junior rugby in the No.12 jersey for Cinderford and Lydney before switching to No.8 and finally, with his chunky body shape beginning to dictate, deciding that propping would be his destiny.
Bartlett explained: “I came on to Gloucester’s radar when I was 12 as part of their development pathway programme, had a few trials and have stayed with it all the way. But there have been a few changes along the way since I started out playing as a centre.
“I stopped playing 12 when I was in the U16s and then gave it a go at No.8, but Gloucester said if I wanted to make it further, I’d have to get into the front row.
“It was mainly down to my body shape and, size-wise, I’m more suited to being a prop, but having played at 12 and No.8 is good because it really helps me with my skills around the park and my game-understanding, which is a big part of the game for props now.
“I’m a big fan of Kyle Sinckler – how he gets around the park and still manages to scrummage as well. He brings a big impact all over and is exactly what you want from a modern-day No.3, with that extra edge as well. You’ve got to have that bit of edge, haven’t you!”
Closer to home, Bartlett is an equally big admirer of Gloucester tighthead Fraser Balmain – an unsung master of his trade currently enjoying an outstanding season.
“I look up to Fraser more than anyone,” Bartlett said. “He’s really put a marker down this season and has started pretty much every game for Gloucester. I work with him in training a lot, studying his scrummaging technique and he’s one of the best in the league.
“I also work closely with Ciaran Knight, who’s a couple of years older than me and has been getting into the first team, whilst our scrum coach Trevor Woodman’s helped me a lot. He’s always on to me, teaching me new stuff and giving me plenty to work on.”
Having been capped five times by England U18s last year and once in the U20s this, Bartlett made his first team debut for Gloucester against Wasps last October.
He said: “It was at home in the Premiership Cup with 13,500 at Kingsholm so it was a pretty memorable occasion to play in front of that many people.
“I’ve seen my dad play for the Navy at Twickenham in front of 70,000-odd a few times and he was a pretty good loosehead who played for Plymouth as well. To follow in his footsteps and play there myself one day would be brilliant for the whole family.”
NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images
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