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Henry Thomas: Johno provided inspiration

22 June 2011

  • England U20 prop Henry Thomas talks to RFU.com from JWC
  • Massive honour to have Martin Johnson speak to us – Thomas

England U20 and Sale Sharks prop Henry Thomas experienced his fair share of Aviva Premiership action last season, but even he admits that last Sunday’s 26-20 win over South Africa with England was one of his toughest conquests:

Henry Thomas in action for England U20 against South Africa

Photo: Getty Images

Everyone was ecstatic about the South Africa win and the performance to go with it. We went into the game with a certain mentality and a certain game-plan and we pulled it off for the most part, which was very satisfying.

They made it very hard for us and a few of us were blowing, but we held out and can’t wait for the semi-final against France.

It was a massive honour to have Martin Johnson speak to us before the game, it gave everyone, either consciously or sub-consciously, an extra incentive to perform.

He said a few words to us and it really got us going, I think it’s great that the Seniors take such a keen interest in age grade rugby and in some ways it’s recognition of the good job both we and our coaches are doing.

My roommate Joe Launchbury was awarded the man of the match award by Johno after the game, and from one No. 4 to another, it was a pretty special moment for him.

To be fair, Joe did have a great game and made one incredible cover tackle in the dying moments, which had they scored and converted, would have given them the lead. I don’t want to say that he ‘won’ us the game – but he certainly helped!

Henry Thomas in action for England U20 against South Africa

Photo: Getty Images

I’m being rested for the semi against France, which on the one hand is frustrating and disappointing, but if I wasn’t disappointed then I shouldn’t be here. 

The team selected is more than capable of winning, we’re a squad of 26 and every single player is ready to do a good job. We’re all here to support each other either, on the pitch or from the sidelines.

Away from the playing field we’ve enjoyed a couple of days off – a trip into Venice was very nice and we also went to a water park called ‘Padova Land’.

We went there the day after the South Africa game so officially it counted as our pool recovery, but it was a lot of fun – everyone was in good spirits. Although I did manage to lose half a tooth.

I went down a slide hugging the back of Will Collier who in turn was holding onto Mako Vunipola – it was all going swimmingly until we hit the water and it was a case of ‘bang, bang, bang’. I think my head went into the back of Will and so half of my tooth has stayed with ‘Padova Land’!

Anyway, we face France today – live on Sky Sports 4 at 5pm, so get behind the boys. It promises to be a good one.

Cheers, Henry