- Sale Sharks centre primed to continue promising career
- U20 level is a great time to shine and make a name for yourself – Jennings
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A confident Mark Jennings is poised to begin his England Under 20 career and believes that the know-how he has garnered in junior international rugby so far will help him to stand out over the course of the upcoming campaign.
Asserting himself as a key member of the U18 squad for the past two seasons, Jennings is excited about the challenge of taking the next step towards a senior cap.
“I can’t wait,” said the centre, who became the youngest ever man to sign a professional contract for Sale Sharks on his sixteenth birthday back in 2008.
“After being involved for the last two years, I know the majority of lads as well as the quality and class that this side has had before. I wouldn’t be here without the knowledge that I have picked up from coaches such as John Fletcher, though. That has really helped my game.
“Being in the U20s is definitely a great time to shine through and make a name for yourself,” he added. “Some very successful lads have come through the ranks and it is a great way to get onto the bigger stage.”
Going on to credit the influence of both Leicester Tigers’ George Ford and Eliot Daly of London Wasps – two star performers of the team who achieved a Six Nations Grand Slam before reaching the final of the IRB Junior World Cup in Italy last season – Jennings expressed his desire to maintain England’s strong tradition at this age group.
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“Playing with guys like Fordy and Daly [over previous years for the U18s] has given me some brilliant experience coming into the setup,” the former Myerscough College student explained.
“Representing your country is obviously a great feeling and it is helpful that they are coming off a very successful U20s season.”
Jennings has already clinched an impressive honour for England in 2011/12, having been part of a victorious sevens squad at Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man at the start of September.
Under the guidance of full England Sevens maestro Ben Ryan, the South African-born flyer starred in a fine 41-20 win over South Africa in the final that clinched gold.
“Having Ben there was brilliant,” Jennings finished. “Learning skills from him, as well as playing with a good set of lads, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really.”