Gresham’s school rugby player, Harry Simmons feasts his eyes on a Premiership debut after becoming the latest Norfolk player to have the opportunity to earn a place on Leicester Tigers first team.
The 18-year-old stood out from the rest of his team when playing the opening hour of a 26-24 home win over Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Harry Simmons, the up and coming rugby player said: “It was something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid, so it was pretty special for me and the family.”
He continued: “Obviously I was very nervous, but as soon as soon as you get into the swing of things it’s the same as any other game, it’s about getting your hands on the ball and then you forget about the crowd and the TV cameras and all that stuff.”
The young athlete was raised in Lenwade and had been with Tigers ever since the under-16 level, moving to Leicester after finishing his A-Levels at Gresham’s School in Holt.
In his working career as a rugby player, he followed in his father’s footsteps, Mark, who captained Norfolk, Eastern Counties and Holt. Simmons added, “Mum and Dad were here for the game and I had a few mates from school here as well. Also some of the Holt boys were here for the Prima Cup, the under-10s competition after the game.”
Simmons aspires to be following closely behind England’s scrum-half Ben Youngs, who was recently presented with an engraved silver picture frame following the success of Leicester’s home game against Newcastle.
Simmons said that he has “worked together lots” with the high-profile Tigers team-mate and is constantly picking his brains when they are kicking and passing to each other.
“So he’s probably been my main idol, it’s quite cool to get the opportunity to pick his brains and he’s been brilliant for me,” Simmons added. Approximately 5ft 11ins and 90kg in weight, Simmons appears ready to prove that he can handle rugby at a professional level.
While Youngs is away with England for the autumn internationals, Simmons has the chance to show that he can handle the top-level demands of a rugby player.
Simmons’ hopes were raised last month when 25-year-old New Zealander Jono Kitto was released. Head Coach, Matt O’Connor said: “Ben White and Harry Simmons have both come through our academy and are at a stage in their careers where we need to be able to provide those opportunities in senior rugby.”
Kitto also said that he sees both White and Simmons playing a significant role in the club’s future success and is excited to see their progress alongside senior scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Sam Harrison. Geordan Murphy, Tigers’ Coach said he was pleased with Simmons’ debut against Gloucester.
“He played really well. We are very lucky that we have two very good young nines.”
Simmons is aware that this is his lucky break in professional rugby and is excited about rising to the challenge and proving that he can succeed.