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Young Gun: Matt Worley – Racing 92 full-back

It was a PR stunt that took Matt Worley from Hong Kong to Racing 92, but two years later the young full-back is on the brink of making his Top 14 debut.

Moving to Hong Kong from the UK aged five, Worley grew up playing rugby and represented Hong Kong at U16s, U18s and U20s level.

Two years ago, he was offered the opportunity to spend four weeks with Racing and what was originally a publicity stunt for Racing’s sponsor, Natixis, turned into a success story.

Last season Worley, who is still 19, won the U23s French league with Racing’s Espoirs starting most games in the No.15 jerseys. His standout performances were rewarded by the first team coaches inviting him to train full-time with them.

Going from playing schools rugby in Hong Kong to training with some of the most famous players on the planet in two years is quite a jump, but he’s determined to carry on his journey in Paris.

“I’d never imagined I’d be in this position,” he told The Rugby Paper. “I was playing school rugby in Hong Kong two years ago and now I’m training with Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko.

“I’m incredibly lucky and I’m like a sponge when I turn up for training. I’m learning so much off these guys by just seeing how they get on with what they do in training.

“I came to Racing for a month initially as my club in Hong Kong and Racing had links through their sponsor. It was a bit of a PR stunt to be honest but I’ve impressed and I never went back to Hong Kong.

“I was only 18 but they really liked me so I joined the academy. Last season was my breakthrough season playing for the Espoirs. We won the league and on the back of that the coaches picked six or seven of us to train with the first-team.

“They’ve given me a great opportunity, one as a youngster you can only wish for. Now it’s up to me to grab my chance with both hands if I want to play in the Top 14 this season.”

Worley joined Racing as a scrum-half but being unable to speak French meant he couldn’t have the influence required at half-back.

So he moved to full-back and he hasn’t got to look too far for advice with pocket-size France Test star Brice Dulin able to share his experience of the highest level when measuring similarly at 5ft 10in and 13st 7lbs.

Worley added: “I came as a scrum-half but given the importance of the No.9 in French rugby, the language barrier became an issue so I moved to full-back last season.

“I’m quite quick so it was a good fit and you get to direct the defensive line from behind, a bit like you do from scrum-half, so there are similarities.

“I’m also quite similar in shape to Brice – I’m an inch taller but he’s a bit heavier – so we work on the same things.

“We’ve got our first pre-season game in two weeks against Bayonne and then another one against Toulouse so I’m hoping to get involved in those and show the coaches what I can do.”

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