Adam Ashe

Adam Ashe (PA)

WHEN DID you first play rugby?
When I was about 14, when my PE teacher at Alva Academy said I looked more like a rugby player than a footballer.

Have you always played in the back row?
I started at full-back, then moved in to centre, up to second-row and then back to the back row from U17s. No 8 is my favourite.

Which Scotland teams have you played for?
The U17s and U18s, then last season I was in the Sevens squad and went to all nine IRB tournaments.

You only turned 19 in July, so was it tough being away so much?
At the start we were away for a month, so I was in at the deep end, but I really enjoyed it. It was good to experience playing in front of big crowds and the full-time training helped my fitness.

Which coach has been the biggest help to you?
My Glasgow Academy coach Iain Monaghan has been particularly good.

What are your aims for this season?
To play for the Warriors and for Scotland U20.

What interests do you have outside rugby?
I love golf. I used to play off seven when I was 15.

RW Verdict: A great, young prospect who got bags of crucial experience under his belt on the sevens circuit last season.

Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola

Your dad, Fe’ao, played for Tonga – was rugby a big part of your childhood?
Yes, massive. My brother Mako and I were ballboys for Tonga at some games. We moved to the UK when I was six and I started playing when I was about eight, at my school in Pontypool.

Have you always played in the back row?
I don’t like to say this but I used to be a prop!

What do you like about playing No 8?
You get to grind it out with the front five in the rucks and you can run the ball too – or even kick, as Zinzan Brooke showed. I like to mess around after training doing different skills.

Has your dad been your biggest influence?
Yes, but lots of other people helped as well, especially as he was away a lot because of his rugby.

Did he mind you opting for England, not Tonga?
He kind of pushed us to go for England because it’s a huge achievement to play for them, with all the players they have. It seemed right to me too, because I have spent most of my life abroad.

What has it been like to play in the Premiership as a teenager?
Last year I struggled, but I’m getting used to it. It’s hard on your body and can be stressful too.

Which team-mates have helped you most?
Serge Betsen was really calming when I first came in and now Ashley Johnson is good with me.

RW Verdict: A powerhouse who doesn’t turn 20 until November, this England U20 forward looks set for a massive future.

This article appeared in the November 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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