- Newest recruit Owen Bruynseels excited about spot in Counties starting line-up
- National One learning curve can be a bonus according to Bruynseels
When Ealing Trailfinders wingman Owen Bruynseels received a belated call-up to join four of his club mates in the England Counties camp for their game against the Ulster Bank International Team at Preston Grasshoppers RFC tomorrow (March 16, 7.30pm), he was thrilled.
“I needed a lot of help from my school to organise time off, but they were very good, as they always are with sporting issues, and I was able to accept,” says the 26-year-old Head of Year 12 at St John the Baptist Secondary School in Woking, where he teaches Religious Studies and Philosophy.
“It was so last-minute that they had to sort out cover and it was a really big favour. But they’re a really supportive school and very understanding towards people who play sport. So they got things in place very quickly to enable me to come.
“In the circumstances, I was simply happy to get into the squad. To be in the starting line-up is simply amazing. I must have been doing something right in training.”
That may have something to do with the way things have been going for him since he graduated from his fledgling days at Twickenham RFC via Staines RFC to join Mike Cudmore at the Trailfinders eight years ago.
A veteran of three promotions, he knows all about the increasing demands of moving up the ladder and how tight and pressurised the game can become as the opposition becomes better equipped and harder to outmanoeuvre.
“We always backed ourselves to hold our own, but we’ve done really well and are still in with a chance of promotion this season,” he says.
“But we’ve lost a couple of games by a score where we could have won, started badly and left ourselves too much to do, or when we had a lead, didn’t manage the game correctly.
“I think that learning process will help tomorrow, as will the fact that we have a back three from Ealing, which should be a massive help in terms of communications. Knowing how we each react to situations could well be very important.”
The Counties management will certainly be hoping so. With the prolific Phil Chesters on one flank, scorer of over 30 tries already this season, Bruynseels, with 15 to his credit on the other, and Ealing team-mates Tom Wheatcroft at centre and Peter Hodgkinson at full-back respectively alongside Barking centre Andrew Henderson, there is the best fire power in National One to test the Irish if the ball comes their way.
England Counties (v Ulster Bank International Team at Preston Grasshoppers, Friday, March 16, kick-off 7.30pm): Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders); Owen Bruynseels (Ealing Trailfinders), Andrew Henderson (Barking), Tom Wheatcroft (Ealing Trailfinders), Phil Chesters (Ealing Trailfinders); Ross Laidlaw (Rosslyn Park), Harry Peck (Tynedale); Robbie Kalbraier (Blaydon), Matt Hall (Blaydon), David Dickinson (Tynedale), Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park), Robbie Hurrell (Stourbridge), Lee Starling (Ealing Trailfinders), Dave Allen (Blackheath), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale) capt. Replacements: Sam Wilkes (Cinderford), Tom Mantell (Macclesfield), Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon), Sam Shires (Tynedale), Philip Woodhead (Wharfedale), Mike Waywell (Fylde)*, Chris Briers (Fylde)*
*denotes previous Counties appearance.