Miles Reid is learning lessons fast and will not be forgetting the one he was given last season by legendary Australian back row George Smith in a hurry.
Nor will he forget the ‘welcome to the Premiership’ he received from another vastly experienced back rower during a top-flight appearance against Saracens.
Asked to nominate his toughest opponent to date, Reid says without hesitation: “Michael Rhodes. When we played Saracens, he absolutely walloped me in the back. He hits hard and is a very aggressive player who knows all the tricks. I never saw him coming.
“You learn these lessons, though, and a guy I really admire is George Smith. Guys like him and David Pocock are so smart when they go in and try to steal the ball and when I played against Smith last season, he also gave me a very valuable lesson.
“He goes in to jackal and then ducks out at the last second and makes you go off your feet.
“He did that to me and I fell for it, so you feel a bit silly. But then you think about it and it’s just really smart play, so you go away, learn from it and become better.”
After five Premiership appearances last season in which he made a hard-hitting impact himself, Reid, 20, is eyeing another breakthrough campaign with Francois Louw and Sam Underhill away on World Cup duty with South Africa and England respectively.
Spotted as a 16-year-old at nearby Beechen Cliff School, such has been his speed of progress that he is now vying with Zach Mercer and Josh Bayliss for a starting spot.
“I’ve looked up to people like Zach,” Reid says. “He’s close to my age but just seeing what he’s done already with Bath and England in such a short space of time is really inspiring and it’s something I want to push towards myself in the coming seasons.
“It’s a really good group of young back rows we have here, with Josh and Sam as well, and it’s nice that we can bounce ideas off each other, whether it’s around the breakdown with Sam and Josh, or Zach with his work-rate and energy around the field.
“In world rugby, I’d say at the moment that Sam’s the best tackling No.7 around.
“The hits he puts in and the impact those hits make on the game are second to none, so for me that’s what definitely sets him apart from the other players there. Hopefully, I’m not a million miles away myself, I’ve just got to keep improving my game day-on-day.”
After adding 4kgs this summer to weigh-in at 108.5kgs (17st 1lb), the former Avon RFC junior is desperate to get stuck in.
Reid added: “It’s a good weight to be, one where I feel I can make a bigger impact without losing speed or mobility.
“It’s been such a long pre-season because of the World Cup, but my fitness levels are really high now and the target is the Premiership Cup.”