- Former England U18 international David Sisi is preparing for Sam Warburton
- Sisi credits AASE programme as crucial factor on way to first London Irish start
Photo: Getty Images
Just ten months ago London Irish back rower David Sisi was representing AASE side St. Paul’s Catholic College, tomorrow the 18-year-old will be lining up against Wales captain and Rugby World Cup 2011 star Sam Warburton.
The Exiles face Warburton’s Cardiff Blues at the Madejski Stadium in the fifth round of Heineken Cup fixtures and it’s one that Toby Booth’s side could do with winning as they look to progress beyond the Pool stages.
And that fact is not lost on the former England Under 18 international. "It’s a massive game," he said. "We’re sitting in third place in our Pool and the incentive is to close the gap on Cardiff and try and get as far as we can in the competition.
"I’ve come off the bench six times for Irish, but to get my first start in a game of this size is a massive honour. I can’t wait to get out there and get stuck in. I managed to get a good run out against Sale Sharks last weekend and I want to try and keep my place in the team.
"I feel like I’m in good form, Boothy’s given me the nod and I don’t want to let him, or the lads, down."
Photo: Getty Images
Speaking about Warburton, who recently won the Rugby Union Writers’ Club Award for Personality of the Year, Sisi added: "I’ve got loads of respect for Sam Warburton, he’s a top class player, but that’s exactly where I want to be – testing myself against these guys.
"I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m just going to try and give a good account of myself, stick to my task and hopefully everything else will look after itself."
On his rapid rise, Sisi paid huge gratitude to the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme and cites his manager Giselle Mather as one of his “rugby heroes.”
"I wouldn’t be where I am today without the AASE programme, it’s as simple as that," he said. "Giselle has done amazingly well, she’s a credit to rugby and is definitely one of my heroes within the game."
The AASE programme is designed to meet the needs of young people, aged between 16 and 18 who have the potential to achieve excellence in rugby while pursuing an education at the same time, and as a case and point, look no further than Sisi.
Further details can be found at www.rfu.com/AASE.