Harry Simmons recently announced himself as a scrum-half of huge potential when, under his expert guidance, a youthful Leicester side defeated Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
It should come as no surprise. Simmons, after all, learned his trade at Holt FC in Norfolk, which just happens to be where England and Tigers star Ben Youngs also cut his teeth.
Simmons was a better athlete than rugby player in his early days, winning silver medals at 100m and 800m and a gold in the long jump whilst representing Norfolk. He was a decent footballer, too, attracting interest from Norwich City before the oval ball took precedence.
Simmons told TRP: “I had to make some decisions over which direction my sporting career would go, but my old man and granddad played for Holt, as did my brothers, and Ben Youngs was one of my sporting idols, so I was always likely to go the rugby route.
“Holt’s a great club and both of the Youngs brothers played there, so it’s certainly produced some good players and there are plenty of their shirts on all the walls. I’m literally following in the footsteps of Ben, which is brilliant for me and is actually pretty cool.”
Injury denied Simmons a crack at England U16s level, but he toured South Africa with the U18s last year whilst gaining experience in the A-League and at Loughborough in National One.
England U20s honours eluded him and the fact he turns 20 next week rules him out of this season’s Six Nations, but that has proved no impediment to his progress as another outstanding Anglo-Welsh display at Bath last week, this time at full-back, boosted his reputation.
Simmons explained: “I’ve been involved in first team training all season and although there were a lot of nerves, making my full debut at Welford Road in front of 18,000 and then following up at Bath, where we played really well, was something I relished and really enjoyed.
“The build-up to the Gloucester game was quite long because I found out I’d be playing on the Tuesday morning, but as soon as the game started I got right into it. It was definitely the biggest crowd I’d played in front of and to be involved at Bath was tremendous.
“I’ve always been a No.9 but I fill in at full-back sometimes and it’s another string to my bow.”
With Youngs as his mentor, Simmons is now targeting a new contract and regular top-flight game time. He added: “I’m currently on a one-year deal until July, but I’m hoping to get that extended and my target this season is to be playing some Premiership rugby.
“Getting to train with Ben means I’m learning from one of the best and he’s always helping out the young boys. We’ve got Sam Harrison and Ben White pushing hard for the No.9 shirt as well but I know I’m in there fighting and if I work hard I’ll get my chance.”