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Young Gun: Harlequins hooker Jack Musk

Jack Musk

Injuries to a trio of senior Harlequins hookers have presented opportunities for Jack Musk to showcase his talents – something the 19-year-old has been delighted to take advantage of as he lays out his case for inclusion in this season’s England U20s squad.

A converted back rower who attended St John’s School in Leatherhead, Musk was spotted by Quins at the age of 13 and has risen through their ranks, with impressive Premiership Cup showings against Bristol, London Irish and Gloucester a surprise bonus.

“I’ve been really lucky to have an opportunity to play these games of senior rugby, which was completely unexpected,” Musk said. “It’s been cool playing in front of big crowds for the first time, with and against some top international players.

“I was at Esher last year, which I enjoyed. Although we went down, I got quite a lot of game time and it was great to get into men’s rugby and make that step up physically.

“I’m dual-registered with the Rams this year and they’ve got off to a flyer in National One, so once our senior guys start coming back, I’ll look forward to playing a lot of rugby there as well whilst hopefully being involved in the Premiership Shield for Quins.

“I’ll just look to keep improving as much as I can to close the gap with our senior guys and I’d like to think I could push myself into England U20s contention. I went to a couple of camps last year and got a taste of it, so it would be great to make that step.”

With Welsh Test star Scott Baldwin joining Rob Buchanan, Max Crumpton and Elia Elia in the senior Quins No.2 ranks, Musk will have his work cut out. However, they are good men to learn from as he looks to emulate one of his favourite role models.

Musk explained: “Someone I’ve always seen as the exact player I’d like to be is Schalk Brits. His mobility, talent, speed and skill-set is incredible – and at the club last year we also had Dave Ward, who isn’t the biggest hooker in the world either.

“I started as a back row but was a bit short, so I moved to hooker, much to my resistance at first, and I actually enjoy it now. Hookers are now like a fourth back rower anyway and Scott Baldwin’s come in and been a big help to younger hookers like me.

“I’ve been lucky to have a lot of well-proven hookers to learn from anyway and Scott’s added a lot to us as a senior player. The biggest challenge is your set-piece – lineout throwing and scrumming – so it’s been interesting to work so closely with him.”

A mad keen cricket fan, Musk’s twitter account pictures him standing proudly next to Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle and, er, Piers Morgan at a charity match. He adds: “I love my cricket but never had the patience to play it seriously, so it’s rugby for me.”

NEALE HARVEY

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