The Toulouse breakdown master overcame plenty of adversity early in his career
Who is Jack Willis: Ten things you should know about the England back-row
Jack Willis is a major threat at the breakdown and with ball in hand.
The Toulouse and England flanker’s career has been blighted by injury, but he has overcome the setbacks impressively.
Ten things you should know about England back-row Jack Willis
1. Jack Steven Willis was born on 24 December 1996 in Reading. In his youth, he played for his father’s club, Reading Abbey.
2. He joined the Wasps Academy in 2015 and made his first senior appearance against Sale Sharks in 2016. His first try came against Saracens during the 2017-18 season.
3. His younger brother, Tom, joined him first at Reading Abbey and subsequently at Wasps. They started together for the Coventry-based club for the first time in November 2017.
4. Willis won the World Rugby U20 Championship with England in 2016.
5. He earned his first England call-up in 2018 for the summer tour to South Africa but a serious knee injury, which included damage to several ligaments, denied him a debut cap.
6. He enjoyed a stellar 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership season. Alongside helping Wasps reach the final, Willis won Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Season, Premiership Player of the Season and Premiership Discovery of the Season.
7. He made his long-awaited England debut in November 2020 in the Autumn Nations Cup against Georgia and marked the occasion with a try.
8. Willis’s rotten luck returned during his third England cap against Italy during the 2021 Six Nations. In the process of scoring, he sustained another severe knee injury that sidelined him for a year.
9. He candidly documented the psychological struggles of a second long-term injury in an article series with The Times, admitting that: “There have been times when I thought I would not make it back.”
However, the arrival of his first child, Enzo, in December 2021 gave him a vital sense of perspective, and he made his Wasps return in February 2022.
10. After the insolvency of Wasps RFC at the start of the 2022/23 season, Willis signed a deal with Toulouse until the end of the season.
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