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Young Gun: Harry Sloan – Harlequins and England U20 centre

Harry SloanA year ago Harry Sloan was battling hard to earn a contract at Harlequins – fast-forward 12 months and he has already scored for the Quins first team and broken into the England U20s midfield.

Sloan is powerfully built, but with soft hands, as demonstrated by his delicate offload to Ben Howard to help England’s youngsters get past Scotland in Plymouth last Friday.

Having shown enough to earn himself a deal at the Stoop this season, he was given his first taste of first-team action in the LV= Cup back in November, scoring on debut to help Quins down Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

Sloan admits the first-team opportunities have transformed him as a player.

He said: “I think I’ve progressed a lot more since the start of my contract with Harlequins.

“Especially in the A League where I played in the centre with players like Matt Hopper and Tom Casson – and getting my LV= Cup opportunities.

“Through injuries I managed to get my first start against Northampton.

“My Dad has wanted me to play rugby since I was a young child. He took me down to Cranbrook Rugby Club when I was about six.

“I played through all the age-groups at Cranbrook all the way up to U16s when I came into county and division rugby as well as international representative rugby.

“At the start of my time with Quins I just wanted to settle in and didn’t know it was going to be a career option for me.

“But as I gradually developed through the age groups and Elite Player Development Group, I felt there were opportunities for me to get contracted and that’s when I really pushed myself.

“I was picked up by Quins at 15 and went for a week’s trial at the club. Academy coach Howard Graham came down to watch me play at a divisional game against Portugal for London South U16s and he picked me up from that. I’ve been at Quins ever since.

“As soon as Harlequins gave me an opportunity I was going to take it.”

Now settled in the centres, Sloan was nomadic when it came to his position as a youngster.

He explained: “When I was 11, I played fly-half. I got a bit bigger and they stuck me in the back row, before being moved back to centre when I was about 14.

“I don’t think I could still do a shift in the back row at England U20s level. I wouldn’t be able to handle that.”

The former Skinners School pupil insists he is now happy in the Quins midfield as he looks to become the latest player to graduate from the Quins academy into a young, English first team.

Jordan Turner-Hall is one of those graduates in a Quins midfield where George Lowe, Matt Hopper and Tom Casson are also fighting for spots.

And while Sloan faces strong competition to break into Conor O’Shea’s first XV, he revealed that England centre Turner-Hall has been a real help to him.

“Jordan Turner-Hall is my mentor at the moment. He takes me through video clips and helps me out. He’s been very helpful, especially with my defence.

“The end goal away in the distance is, I suppose, the senior England side.

“But first I’m looking at making my first team Premiership debut at Harlequins and settling in to the team over the next few years.”

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