Joe Batley hopes picking Peter Buxton’s brain will arm him for an assault on the under-20s Six Nations competition.
His performances then paved the way for a place on the bench with the international junior set-up, coming on for the last half-an-hour in the team’s 21-15 defeat to Wales in Colwyn Bay.
A taste of defeat at the highest level in his age group was an eye-opener, Batley explains, but the experience he will gain from the challenge is second to none.
He said: “It was a great achievement for me to come on. Being one of the youngest players in the squad, it was great for me and this will be an opportunity for me to improve my future.
“I didn’t expect to be in the squad. I have obviously been involved in the A League for Gloucester and some of the LV= Cup games.
“This is my first year in the academy and I am really enjoying it. It is a good place to be and I have progressed really quickly. I hope that continues.”
And Batley credits Hartpury director of rugby Alan Martinovic for his coming of age, adding that his work with experienced rugby brains has given him the platform to progress at a meteoric speed.
He said: “Alan has been involved with me since I started at Hartpury College when I was 16. Bucko has been working one-on-one with me as well – he has been doing a lot of second-row/back-row drills with me.
“He has helped a lot with my ball-carrying, with the line-out and keeping my core strong. He has been a great help.
“I hope to keep learning. This is a high-pressure situation we play in and it can be a cut-throat environment. I need to play under these situations if I am going to progress.
“Obviously, in this environment, I am up against people in my own peer group – the best of the best at my age. With Gloucester, I have been able to play with players I look up to.
“In a way, they are both very good platforms for me.”
England will need to shrug off their defeat to Wales if they are to regain ground in this year’s competition. Next up is Italy, who will visit Brickfields in Plymouth on Friday (7.45pm) following their 47-15 defeat to Ireland.
Batley said: “It is tough to win when you have three players sent to the bin and I think we probably got on the wrong side of the referee. We’re a new team and it takes time to gel but I feel we kept making the same mistakes (against Wales).
“It has been good this week – everybody in the camp is in a good place. We need to put a good performance in and hopefully we can do that against Italy and come back with the win.”