As a series of academy products limber-up for another shot at the big time at Cammi Rugby Calvisano this weekend following their solid display last Sunday, one man who aspires to be a part of Dean Richards’ revolution is England Under-18 second-row Will Witty.
The 18-year-old, who hails from North Yorkshire, joined the academy ranks last month after impressing for the Falcons in the Aviva ‘A’ League this campaign.
And after helping England Under-18s to a healthy 23-3 triumph over Australia Schools at Harrow School last week, Witty is ready to kick-on at Kingston Park.
“It was nice to beat the Aussies last week, and it was a good experience for me on a personal note as I look to continue my development,” said Witty.
“It was a difficult match, as is any game against Australia, but we came through and now I’m looking forward to getting my head down and keep working hard on my game,” he added.
Standing at 6’5” and weighing in at over 110kg, the Malton and Norton-born prodigy is combining his academy commitments with a full-time agriculture degree at Newcastle University.
Witty admits it is a challenge but a worthwhile one given he gets to train with experienced Aviva Premiership talent.
He said: “It’s great to get the opportunity to train in a high performance environment, and I love every minute. I’ve played rugby ever since I was a kid, so to be involved at this level is fantastic, but my family have been massively important in getting me to this stage.
“My ultimate goal is to sign a senior contract with the club, but that’s all down to me. Academy Manager Mark Laycock and academy coach James Ponton have been instrumental in helping me improve, and I want to repay them with strong performances.”
Academy chief Laycock is delighted to have the lineout specialist on board, saying: “We knew about Will from his time with the Leeds Academy last season where he played for the North of England and he always looked a solid player.
“When we got a call from Leeds’ academy manager Mark Luffman over the summer to say Will was planning on coming to Newcastle to study, we had every intention of involving him in our ‘A’ team so we could have a look at him.
“He’s taken his chance and has adapted really well to the challenge. For a young 18-year-old to throw himself into tackles and the contact area like he does shows real maturity beyond his years.”
The Falcons senior outfit entertain London Wasps in their next home Aviva Premiership game on Friday 27 December with tickets still available for the game by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.