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Young Gun: Will Owen – England U20s and Leicester openside

Will OwenBreaking into the Leicester first team is no mean feat but Will Owen will be attempting just that next season after what he hopes will be a perfect springboard at the Junior World Cup.

The openside, 20, is currently in Italy with England U20s where they are looking to make it three on the bounce following their triumphs in France and New Zealand in 2012 and 2013.

An out-and-out openside with a keen eye for a turnover, Owen has proven crucial to Jon Callard’s side already this season when they won the U20s Six Nations.

The youngster is yet to make his debut for the Tigers’ first team, but with his obvious skills and the departure of his mentor Julian Salvi to Exeter, it surely won’t be long before Richard Cockerill calls for Owen to join JWC and academy graduates Ben Youngs and Sam Harrison.

“Julian Salvi has been of great help this season,” Owen told The Rugby Paper. “We have a young player’s programme at the club and I was set up with him to work together.

“I’ve been doing a lot of analysis about the breakdown to know when to get involved or not. I’ve worked a lot on my third-manning as we call it. That’s played a massive part in my development this season whether that’s with England or the Tigers.

“Julian is leaving the club so, although I’m only focussing on the World Cup right now, it might give me a shot at the Tigers first team.

“I’ve been on the bench for the LV=Cup but never got the chance to get on so I’ll be looking to make my debut next season.

“I need to prove myself now and get stuck in every time I get picked. The JWC is a massive opportunity for me to get my name out there and really show what I can do.

“And it’s great to have guys like Ben around who have managed to make the step up from the academy to the first team.”

Hailing from Suffolk, Owen started his rugby journey at Diss RFC before being picked up by Leicester aged 13 to join their EPDG programme.

Three years later he moved to Leicester’s Queen Elizabeth College and linked up with the academy full-time.

Selection for England U17s, U18s and U19s followed before he made his U20s debut off the bench against France in the opening round of the Six Nations last year.

This season he started all five Six Nations game in the No.7 shirt, becoming an instrumental part of the team.

He is now eager to take on the best young No.7s in the world in Italy, such as Wales’ sensation Ollie Griffiths on Saturday.

He said: “I’m in a good place at the moment especially after winning the Six Nations. I love playing at openside, I love getting stuck in the rucks and do what I do. I know my role in the team.

“I know what I have to do and that’s to get in the breakdown and try to get turnovers.

“We watched the South Africa game on Tuesday and they looked pretty strong. It’d be good to take them on later on in the tournament and test ourselves.

“It’s good to play everyone in the tournament to show your talent and see what you’re up against.”

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