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Young Gun: Ali Crossdale – England U20s full-back

Ali Cossdale is living the dream by training with the best team in Europe every day and has learned that rubbing shoulders with the likes of Owen Farrell and Alex Goode can quickly expose what you need to work on as an academy player.

The young full-back joined the Saracens academy full-time this season after leaving Sedbergh School last summer.

Kicking has become a bigger part of his game this season but he says it is his positional work that he is working on the most to ensure he does not get exposed by being even just one metre out of position.

“I’m really loving it at Saracens and it’s a great club to be part of right now,” he told The Rugby Paper. “We’re training with the first team every day so the academy lads can feed of their success.

“We get access to all the players which comes in handy to do extras with the likes of Owen and Alex in my case.

“They’re always keen to help us out. I’m working on my kicking with Owen and my positioning with Alex, which has been the biggest thing for me to get my head around.

“You don’t really kick in school rugby. You just run the ball back but you can’t do that at senior level. You have the whole backfield to cover and it’s amazing how much difference one metre in your positioning can make.

“We get to defend against the first team in training which is as exciting as it is daunting. You can get exposed really quickly if you’re not in the right place and it can be quite costly for the team.

“Trying to read what the opposition is going to do is the hardest thing but I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve made big improvements.”

Crossdale is about to fly to Georgia for the World Rugby U20 Championship with England as they look to defend their title in the next few weeks.

After missing out on the Six Nations through injury, the 19-year-old is hoping finally to get his chance alongside his club mate Max Malins.

He added: “It was frustrating to miss the Six Nations because of my shoulder injury but it was great to watch the lads do so well. They did a great job and I’m really looking forward to the World Cup now.

“It happened only two weeks before the start of the tournament and I had to have a minor surgery but my shoulder feels really strong now and I managed to get a coule of games in the A-League with the first team as well as two with Old Albanians on loan.

“I got to play with Max which I’m hoping we can do again in an England jersey. We train every day together so it’d be great to put our relationship to good use with him at fly-half and me at full-back in Georgia.

“Playing in the Junior World Cup was all I was thinking about while I was injured so I’m glad I got through the rehabilitation and then got picked.

“I can’t wait to be part such an exciting experience.”

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