20 Questions: Jack Clifford – England U20 captain

Jack CliffordExcited about the Junior World Championships?
Can’t wait. It’s a great end to what has been a good season for me. Quins won the A-League and I made my Premiership debut, so this will round things off superbly.
Looks like a tough challenge in France?
It’s a very tough group but we’ve got a lot of good players and we’re determined to make amends for a massively disappointing World Cup last year.
Captaining the side, aren’t you?
Yes. It’s a great honour. I didn’t captain any sides at school but I did it during both England U19s games last year and carried on in this year’s 6 Nations.
Quite a thrill winning the 6N on the last day?
Great feeling. After losing to Ireland things got a bit nervous but it was tremendous to get the win in Wales, especially for our coach, Rob Hunter, who was joining Exeter.
Dual-registered with Esher last season, weren’t you?
Yes. I had a good season there, although it was disappointing to finish second. I was at Ealing before that and might go back now they’re in the higher league.
How closely are you involved with the first team at Quins?
The academy players train every day with the first team so we’re all in it together. Getting to learn off great players is brilliant.
Get overawed alongside Robshaw, Easter and Co?
A little bit at first, because you’re training with the England captain. But you soon get used to it and it’s been great having Maurie Fa’asavalu as my mentor throughout the season?
What’s your favoured back row position?
At the moment I’m playing No.8, but I played openside at Esher and have been blindside as well. I enjoy it all across the back row.
Will you have to specialise one day?
I guess I’ll have to make a decision, or someone will make it for me. But I like playing in different positions and feel it’s making me a more rounded player.
How do you chill-out?
Bit of Playstation with my mates, cinema, going out for meals, and I quite enjoy a bit of cooking as well. My specialities are spaghetti Bolognese and sushi.
Where do you dine out most?
Anywhere where we can use our Harlequins discount vouchers! Nando’s provide the staple diet for lots of us hungry rugby players!
Have you any guilty food pleasures?
Two-for-one Tuesdays at Dominos… but don’t tell the S&C staff at the club or they’ll be on the phone to find out what’s going on!
Best film you’ve seen recently?
Django Unchained. I’d definitely recommend it. Lots of action, blood and guts and emotion… a standard Quentin Tarantino film.
Born in Australia, weren’t you?
Yes. My dad’s Kenyan but met my mum in Australia, where they had me and my brother. I’m a dual passport holder so could play for both countries.
Favourite holiday destination?
Kenya. I love the beaches and have been to places like Turtle Bay. I’ve been to the game parks, too, and love it there. The people are really nice.
Play any other sports at school?
Lots of football and athletics. I was just faster than other people. I’m an Arsenal fan, but more the tag-along type than a diehard like Ugo Monye.
If you could be another sportsman?
Fernando Alonso. I like my cars and particularly like Ferrari, so that would be an awesome way to make a living and see the world.
Boyhood rugby idols?
I was 10 when England won the World Cup so Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson are right up there. And Richie McCaw is someone I’ve always looked up to.
Best bit of rugby-related advice?
You’re only as good as your last game. I don’t get too down on myself after a bad game, but I’m quite self-critical and deal with it that way.
Best and worst dressed in the England camp?
Sam Hill is the worst, a 100% scruff. Best is Anthony Watson, who loves his designer gear and always looks cool.

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