The up-and-coming centre talks football, childhood heroes and 2019 goals

Worcester and England U20 centre Ollie Lawrence

Date of birth 18 Sep 1999 Born Birmingham Club Worcester Country England Position Centre

How did you get involved in rugby?

My dad played for Moseley, so I went along to tag rugby there and then played for the juniors. That was it – I always had a passion for it. I went to a rugby-playing secondary school, Old Swinford Hospital, and then went to sixth form at Bromsgrove School on a scholarship.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

I played football and was involved in the academies at Aston Villa and Birmingham City, but I stopped when I was ten as I didn’t like the environment. I also played cricket and at 16 I had to choose. I went for rugby as I enjoyed it more.

Have you always played at centre?

When I was 13, I played No 8 for a couple of games. Apart from that I’ve been at 12 or 13. I prefer 13.

What are your strengths?

Hopefully ball-carrying; I try to be as dangerous as I can in attack. And offloading.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Sonny Bill Williams and Manu Tuilagi. Those were the two I looked up to – and Ma’a Nonu.

When did you link up with Worcester?

When I was in Year Ten, so 14 or 15. I’d done some county stuff and they picked me up. I’ve been full-time this season.

What England honours do you have?

I’ve played U16, U17, U18 and U20, and went into a senior camp last May.

How was that?

I was surprised – I was still at school at the time. To experience training and being around the best coaches and players was great.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?

Probably my dad, Michael. He’s always supported me in whatever sport. I want to do him proud as he’s always wanted me to do the best I can. He played on the wing and has really helped me develop as an athlete.

How have you found your senior outings for Worcester?

It’s been good. I didn’t expect to play as much as I have this season. I was using this as an experience year, but things have taken off.

What are your goals for 2019?

I’d like to go to the U20 World Cup. I missed out last season and think that experience is a memory that will live with you for a long time.

My focus at the moment is staying at Worcester, my home club, and playing as much Premiership rugby as I can.

RW VERDICT: The power-running teen is already on Eddie Jones’s radar and has impressed in his first-team matches for Worcester. Expect to see him making further strides for England U20 and the Warriors for the rest of the season.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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