- Gloucester Rugby new-boy eager to hit ground running at Kingsholm
- “Nothing is set in stone. I’ve just got to make sure I have a big start to the season” – Kvesic
Two commanding performances against Argentina ensured Matt Kvesic’s summer was a satisfying one – but the flanker knows his future England hopes rest on carrying that excellent form into the upcoming domestic season.
Kvesic’s relentless work-rate was an indelible hallmark of the June tour to South America, the 21-year-old enjoying a seamless transition to the top level during the 2-0 series over Pumas.
Photo: Getty Images
A phenomenal haul of 29 tackles repaid Stuart Lancaster’s faith in an effervescent Test debut in Salta, with another solid showing during the 56-21 victory in Buenos Aires cementing an inevitable inclusion in the senior EPS.
But while Kvesic was ecstatic with the reward of promotion from the Saxons training squad – with his attitude singled out for special acclaim by Lancaster earlier this month – he highlighted the fierce tussle for a back-row berth that lies in store ahead of the autumn’s QBE Internationals.
“I was really pleased when I saw my name in the EPS,” he explained at England's Loughborough mini-camp. “I didn’t have a clue beforehand and found out when everybody else did, so it was a nice surprise. It’s a class group of players and I feel really privileged to be involved.
“I was happy with how Argentina went. Obviously I was quite nervous, but I thought if I could just focus on the basics and get done what I knew needed doing, it would give me a good platform heading into this season.
“I feel like I had two pretty solid Tests and hopefully I can build on that now and take a few strides forward.
“[Lancaster’s praise] was obviously very encouraging, but back row is annoyingly the most competitive position in the team. Chris Robshaw was rested for Argentina and he’s been absolutely outstanding for the past two years. Tom Croft was away with the Lions as well.
“Nothing is set in stone – I’ve just got to make sure that I keep my head down and have a big start to the season.”
Now a polished product of the England age-group system, Kvesic notched up 14 Under 20 starts over the two years that he was eligible and credits that grounding as “vital” for his development.
Photo: Getty Images
Admitting to pangs of jealously at the maiden Junior World Championship triumph enjoyed by Jack Clifford’s charges two months ago – he was part of the side that were defeated in the 2011 final by New Zealand – Kvesic predicted that newly-selected Saxon Jack Nowell would be among a plethora of players treading the path through the ranks.
“Having been in [the Under 20] programme for two years, I feel like I had a really good footing. Moving up, that helped me feel really relaxed, because I knew what it was all about and it wasn’t a shock to the system.
“I’m sure there are going to be a load more coming through in the same way, especially after what they did this summer – Jack Nowell has already got into the Saxons to prove that. I’m just gutted I didn’t get a World Cup win myself.”
Since his return from South America, Kvesic has also completed a move to from Worcester Warriors to Gloucester Rugby, where he has been reunited with fellow South America tourists Freddie Burns, Ben Morgan, Billy Twelvetrees and Jonny May.
A pre-season stay in Tignes – incorporating a tune-up fixture with Heineken Cup champions Toulon and a drastic new haircut that is traditional for Kingsholm’s new recruits – has set the scene for a campaign that will be punctuated by involvement in Europe’s premier tournament.
Again modest enough to outline the talents of incumbent number seven Akapusi Qera before anything else, Kvesic went on to express his eagerness to enhance the combinations with Morgan and Burns that were forged in Argentina.
Photo: Getty Images
“It was nice to get to know those guys properly,” he said. “Playing alongside Morgs was really nice, just in terms of getting to know how he goes about things.
“That was the same with Freddie, learning that I need to look after his inside and make a few of his tackles. I’m sure I’ll be doing that a bit this year.
“There’s Jonny May, too – he’s a good character, as is Billy. There’s a group there and alongside the likes of Henry Trinder and Charlie Sharples, we’re an exciting, young team. I feel really glad to be a part of that.
“That’s the main aim at the moment: to have a big start to the season in front of The Shed. It’s obviously a pretty intimidating place to play – it certainly was when I was at Worcester. If I have a good start, you never know what happens further down the line.”