ISC clients Billy Burns (Ulster) and Jacob Umaga (Wasps) have been named in the Ireland and England 6 Nations squads respectively.
Burns, 25, is the younger brother of England international Freddie, played in the England side that won the Junior World Cup in New Zealand in 2014, scoring 11 points in the 21-20 victory over South Africa but he is Irish-qualified through his Cork-born grandfather and has relatives living in Dublin, meaning there is real pride throughout the family.
The Ulster out-half learned of his selection by email last week and, having done his best to put it to one side in the build-up to the Bath game, can now reflect on what lies ahead with Ireland.
“I want to be happy to be in the squad but I can’t just be happy with that,” said Burns. “I want to go down and to play and there’s some great talent in the squad.
“I’m really excited to meet up on Tuesday, obviously with a lot of guys I don’t know. That will hopefully take my game to another level and lead to an international cap.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to play international rugby and I’m in the squad but that doesn’t mean I’m an international. I’ve to prove my worth and hopefully get on the pitch.”
Wasps fly half Jacob Umaga has revealed he discovered his call-up for England’s Six Nations squad via WhatsApp.
The uncapped 21-year-old, who is the son of ex-Samoa player Mike and nephew of former All Black Tana, said he was in the kitchen when he found out about the news.
He said: “I got added to a WhatsApp group chat by an England member of staff with all the logistics for the upcoming weeks. I thought I was being pranked for a second.”
Umaga only made his Premiership debut in October and 15 months ago was lifting the Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland in New Zealand. On his return to England, he went back to Wasps academy duties and picked up valuable experience on loan at Yorkshire Carnegie in the Championship.
Tbe player, who represented England under-18s and under-20s, admitted the call-up was a complete shock. “It’s a bit surreal. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. I woke up Tuesday morning thinking: ‘Did that actually just happen?’ Everyone’s been congratulating me and it’s been a really nice feeling.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young was quick to praise the progression of his academy graduate. He explained: “It’s a recognition of how well Jacob has played this season. He’s worked his socks off to improve.
“He had a stint in New Zealand which gave him some great experience. I think playing in the Mitre 10 Cup competition and rubbing shoulders with some quality players gave him a lot of confidence and belief and he’s come back and gone from strength to strength. He’s certainly been a different player this season – he’s got our attacking line moving really well, takes it to the line really well, and makes good decisions. His kicking game is excellent too.”