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Braley eager to meet French challenge

30 January 2014

  • Bristol Rugby scrum half delighted with captaincy role
  • “France will be hungry to beat the world champions on their home patch” – Braley
Callum Braley

Photo: Getty Images

Newly-appointed England Under 20 captain Callum Braley admits it took a while for the honour of leading his country to sink in, but the Bristol Rugby youngster is now intent on starting the Six Nations with a solid team performance against France tomorrow evening at the Stade Leo Lagrange.

Braley is one of seven players in the match-day 23 to have previous experience at this level, while 11 more represented England Under 18 outfit over the course of last season.

And as Nick Walshe’s charges look to emulate the immense success of 2013 – which saw a clean-sweep of silverware thanks to victories in both the Six Nations and the Junior World Championship – their skipper said he would be helped by influential figures across the squad.

Indeed, Braley immediately identified last season’s Under 18 captain James Chisholm in the back row and Gloucester Rugby fly half Billy Burns – deployed at fly half – as two big voices.

“The captaincy is a massive honour that was tough to get my head around at first,” he explained. “I was absolutely delighted when I was told.

“It’s not something I’ve ever thought about but I’m fortunate to be in this situation and that I’m surrounded by a lot of experienced players who can help me out. That will make the leadership role a bit easier for me.

“As a nine you have to be quite vocal and lead the way the team plays. I’ll have to change slightly to focus on other things like decisions at penalities and it could take a while to adapt.

“Hopefully it won’t though – it helps massively having vocal players either side of me at eight and 10. That really should take the pressure off. I’m thankful for that.”

Still just 19 years old, Braley has featured heavily for Bristol this season, racking up seven appearances in the Championship and five more – scoring four tries – in the British and Irish Cup.

He hopes to capitalise on his experiences in senior rugby in England colours but is also well aware that a trip over the Channel constitutes an extremely arduous task.

Though England Under 20 beat Les Bleus twice last season – 40-10 in the Six Nations and 30-6 at the group stage of the Junior World Championship – Braley suggested those results could make it an even more difficult proposition.

“France in France will be a massive challenge,” he added. “They will be hungry to beat the world champions on their home patch.

“We’ve not played together as a team before but hopefully we can put into practice what we’ve been working on in training and focus on ourselves and the way that we play. If we do that, the result should take care of itself.”