As a West Country boy Callum Braley would like nothing more than to stamp his mark on Bristol’s first team.
But with a trip to South Africa with England already pencilled in on his calendar the 18-year-old scrum-half is more than happy to bide his time – for a little longer.
Despite making two appearances for Bristol as a 17-year-old in the British & Irish Cup, Braley has been far more of a regular in England U18 colours, scoring two tries to help the Red Rose lift the European Championship title in April.
Now, with his two-year spell on loan at Hartpury College coming to an end, he’s set to combine training at Bristol with playing at National Two South side Clifton.
“Pre-season has been tough but I have enjoyed it because it has been good to get among the boys again and spent some time with the club,” he said.
“My main aim in pre-season is to put my name out there. I want to show what I can do and stake my claim for a first team spot but I know I am young and I have time on my side so I am prepared to wait.
“I won’t be around for all of pre-season as I will be touring South Africa with England which I am really looking forward to.
“I have played for England more times that I have played for Bristol but that is just the way it is. I understand and to be honest I wouldn’t want to sacrifice my England duties for anything, it is a big honour when you get the call.”
Bristol is not the only place Braley can be seen in the West Country as he also turns out for his village cricket side Coalpit Heath.
Braley has represented Gloucestershire in cricket but with his dad Stuart having been a rugby player, and his first coach at St Mary’s Old Boys, the teenager admits he never had a chance of choosing bat and ball over rugby.
“I still play a bit of cricket but I have only managed to get out once this season,” he added.
“I used to be a wicketkeeper but now I am more of a batter and fielder.
“But to be honest it was always going to be rugby, especially with my dad coaching me.
“He made sure I didn’t stray too far away from a rugby pitch and I am glad he did because it was obviously the best choice for me.”
Braley is readying himself for a tussle next month with Oliver Claxton. Worcester Warrior Claxton is his rival for the England No.9 shirt.
“Me and Ollie are good friends away from the pitch but we both want the same thing and that is the England scrum-half spot so it can be difficult at times,” Braley said.
“We both know the deal and all you can do is try and improve yourself and if we are both doing that then we will improve the other one too and in turn make England stronger.
“It is great having that competition and it forces me to be a better player which should help me moving forward.”
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