- Kent’s rugby dream comes true with England Counties in Spain
- Winning England shirt means a lot says Macclesfield prop
When prop Martin Kent was playing at Level 7 of the Rugby Union League structure with Derby RFC four years ago, his chances of ever pulling on an international shirt were no more than Boys’ Own fiction.
But tomorrow the same Martin Kent, now 29 and a Macclesfield RFC player after spells with Longton and Coventry, will run out in Madrid as a member of the England Counties XV that meets a Madrid XV in the opening game of a three-match tour.
"Winning an England shirt means a lot," said Kent. "It’s what you aim for all your rugby career. That said, the thought that I might achieve that ambition never really crossed my mind until a few weeks ago. It’s all gone a little bit crazy."
And now he’s in the team and about to collect his coveted shirt? "The whole trip has been going really well. The training has been good and all the lads have come together as a team, so I’m really looking forward to it.” said Kent, who as a brick tinter by profession knows a thing or two about creating a seamless blend between different combinations.
"I think we’re well enough organised now to deliver a good performance, but that will all build up over the next two matches to put us in an even stronger position when we meet Spain next Saturday.
"This is all new to me. It’s hard work with two training sessions on some days, but it’s really enjoyable. The medical and physiotherapy back-up is top-class and all I’m hoping for now is to play to the best of my ability and try to be involved on all three games.
"Having some team-mates from Cheshire is valuable, but at the end of the day you’ve got to dive in and talk to anybody. But I’m not a shy person, so that’s no hardship.
"It’s certainly going to be good having Tommy (Taylor) at my side. There’s about 10 years between us in age and hopefully I can look after him in the scrums and he can look after me by dragging me round the park.
"There’s also Gav (Woods) in the squad and together we formed the Cheshire front row against Lancashire."
Macclesfield teammate Taylor echoes Kent’s sentiments. He said: "I’m really chuffed to be winning my first cap. Everybody has settled in really well and training has been very good which obviously helps ahead of the first game.
But however well we train, we’ll only ever know what we an do until we actually play and see whether what we’ve been doing actually works on the pitch. Having an experienced prop like Martin (Kent) beside me has to be helpful and I can’t wait to get playing now.”
Another member of the Cheshire contingent, Charlie Mulchrone, will be adding an England Counties shirt to an Ireland Under 18s jersey that he already owns, but this step up is clearly a big boost for another member of the Macclesfield clan.
"It’s a massive honour to win an England shirt in my first year of proper rugby," he said. "To get called up for Cheshire and then the Counties is a huge thing. I’ve just moved from Wilmslow having decided to try my luck at National League level and having understudied Will Cliff with Cheshire, I’ve been lucky enough to follow him into the Counties XV.
"I love the professional set-up and all the boys have come together very well. We had our first social get together in Madrid and that went very well – everyone relaxed, a couple of beers and a lot of chat.
"But really, the experience so far has been even better than I expected. But just how good we are we’ll only find out tomorrow."