Find out more about Wasps back-row Jack Willis ahead of England’s tour to South Africa


Wasps back-row Jack Willis earns England call-up

Jack Willis has been a star turn in the Wasps back row this season, was named Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for February and is one of eight uncapped players in Eddie Jones’s England squad to tour South Africa.

We’ll have to wait to see if he earns his first cap against the Springboks next month, but he already has a couple of World Cup-winning fans.

Lawrence Dallaglio says: “It’s his strength over the ball that I really like. He’s got the size and shape of a guy much older than him.”

Related: Eddie Jones’s England squad to face South Africa

Of Willis’s Man of the Match performance against Harlequins, Will Greenwood said: “He helped himself to Harlequins ball all afternoon no matter what juggernauts were looking to excavate him from the ruck. Dai Young knows he has found an absolute gem.”

Jack Willis earns England call-up

Buzzing: Jack Willis was Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for February 2018 (Pinnacle for Aviva)

Here’s a little more about 21-year-old Willis…

When did you first play rugby?

At about six or seven. I started at Abbey RFC in Reading. I fancied myself as a back-line player but ended up moving to the forward pack at U12s.

When did you think you could make a career of rugby?

Not until I got offered my first contract with Wasps. I joined full-time at 18, out of Henley College, where I was on the AASE programme. My coach Dan Batty was good for my development, backing me at U16s when I was quite small.

What’s your preferred position?

I don’t have a favourite position. I’ve played a lot at six this year whereas in the past I’ve played seven. I’ve even played at No 8.

What are your strengths?

I focus on the breakdown, the tackle area and ball-carrying. I really enjoy tackling. With the law changes it’s a bit more difficult (to jackal), but I always target that area.

Is it good having your brother, Tom, at Wasps?

It’s fantastic that he’s been offered a contract. He’s a No 8 so hopefully one day we’ll play together.

Jack Willis earns England call-up

The master: George Smith proved to be a great mentor at Wasps (Getty Images)

Who were your childhood heroes?

George Smith and Richie McCaw.

Did you get to work with George when he was at Wasps?

Yes, we did a lot of skills sessions with him, especially about the breakdown. He spoke about double efforts and how when you make a tackle your job isn’t done. You need to get up and then get to the next breakdown.

What do you do away from rugby?

My hobbies are fishing and golf. The biggest fish I’ve caught was a 16lb carp.

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.