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Young Gun: Ellis Genge – England U20s and Bristol prop

Ellis GengeIt took three years for Ellis Genge to concede a move to prop from the back row would give him the best chance of becoming a professional rugby player.

But the England U20s loosehead has finally seen the light and he is making big, rampaging strides as he showed in a stand-out try-scoring display against Italy in Plymouth last week.

The 20-year-old captained Hartpury College to AASE league victory in 2013 as a No.8 but when Bristol came knocking they were pretty clear about their intentions and the switch was finally made.

“To be honest England coach Ian Peel told me when I was 15 that I should move to prop but I was reluctant and rebelled for a few years.

“I was playing at No.8 at Hartpury and I thought I could make a career in that position but I finally saw the light and moved to prop when I was 18.

“Bristol also twisted my arm by only offering me a one-year deal as a back row while giving me two years as a prop. My game is all about physicality and aggression so it was an easy transition for me to become a prop.

“I had to put on 20 kilos after switching position. I’m now 118kg (18st 8lb) for 6ft 1in but surprisingly I’m a lot quicker than when I was at Hartpury.

“I took a few beastings in the past two years playing men’s rugby but I always thought it could only get better and that’s what drove me.

“I played for Clifton last season which was great for me. I used to dominate people being the biggest at school but it wasn’t the case anymore and it was pretty hard to come to terms with.

“I’m really enjoying it now and I don’t like to be told I’m a back rower playing at prop. I’m a loosehead and I intend to prove how good I can be.

“I made my Championship debut against London Scottish back in September and played my second game yesterday against Doncaster. It’s great confidence boost to have the coaches trusting me to play at this level despite my relative inexperience.”

Genge played football until the age of 12 but the lack of physicality drove him to rugby where he could fully express himself.

He joined Old Redcliffians where he spent the next four years but it was in a friendly game for Keynsham against Colston’s that he was spotted by Hartpury guru Alan Martinovic.

He said: “I was quite an angry teenager and I used to dislike private schools so I thought that game against Colston’s would be a great opportunity for me to get one over them. Alan was watching and after the game he offered me a place at Hartpury.

“Having grown up in Bristol I wasn’t keen to leave at first but I went and it rolled on from there really. Then Bristol came to see me and I moved back home. It went great so far and that led to me being picked for England U19s last year and the U20s this year as a prop.

“It was good to get back to winning ways against Italy last week after our defeat in Wales. We didn’t go into the first game the way should have and we paid the price. I think a few of the boys thought it’d be a walk in the park after we beat them 67-7 last year.

“We want to win all our remaining games starting in Ireland next week which I think we’re more than capable of doing.”

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