The 2010-11 season has taken Stuart Hogg from his Hawick home to Italy, as he’s playing for Scotland U20 in the Junior World Cup in Treviso and Padova from 10-26 June.
Hogg, a versatile back who turns 19 this month, has impressed the Scotland U20 coach Peter Wright, who says: “He identifies space exceptionally well and has the ability to exploit it. He’s got decent hands, he reads the game well and he’s got a pretty mature rugby brain. He’s very confident and has a good attitude, although he can be too harsh on himself.”
Hogg can also kick well and Wright adds: “He’s good to coach because he challenges you and doesn’t always agree with what you say.” Hogg’s dad John played for Hawick so Stuart and his brother Graham – himself a Scotland age-groups and sevens player – joined the club and have played together in the back-line. Stuart came up via Scotland U17 and U18 and signed for the National Academy. He got a taste of the pro game this spring when he made two starts for Glasgow Warriors.
Hogg says his development has been aided by Rocky Johnstone at Hawick, Iain Monaghan at Glasgow, and Bryan Easson, who has worked with him in the national age grades. Having hit all the targets he set himself this season, he says: “To get myself a full-time contract with Glasgow in a year’s time is a big aim of mine.” Wright agrees. “I would be disappointed if he doesn’t break through as a senior player at Glasgow next season,” he says.
Rugby World Verdict: An all-round talent who looks set to be fast-tracked next season. Katie Field
Playing against Munster provides a tough test for the most experienced rugby players, but when 20-year-old centre Luke Marshall made his Magners League debut in Ulster’s clash with them at Ravenhill at the start of this season, he took the experience in his stride.
He has made several appearances for Ulster this season, scoring a try against Cardiff Blues, but it’s not just his nose for the try-line that’s been attracting attention in Belfast.
Marshall is a strong-running centre, and never shies away from a tackle. Furthermore, his defence is solid, and he has great footwork and offloading skills to back up his enviable pace and power. He clearly has a cool head, too, as his decision-making belies his age.
Marshall played for Ireland U20 in the victory over Italy and the draw with Wales in this year’s Six Nations. Next on his agenda is the Junior World Championship in Italy, in which Ireland are pooled with England, Scotland and South Africa. Having lost heavily to England on their own turf in the final weekend of the Six Nations, they will be keen to get their revenge in their opening game in Treviso.
Ireland U20 coach Mike Ruddock has been impressed with Marshall’s impact this season. “Luke has made a big impression on the Magners League and really stood up within the under-20s this season,” he says. “He’s a smashing lad, very humble and conscientious. He takes feedback on board and is always looking to improve.”
Rugby World Verdict: Another impressive youngster coming through the Ulster ranks. Bea Asprey
This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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