Newcastle Falcons’ academy coach James Ponton says Junior World Championship winner Callum Chick can kick on from helping England Under-20s take global glory.
Chick scored one of England’s six tries in a 45-21 win over Ireland during Saturday’s final in Manchester, club-mate Brett Connon coming on from Ireland’s bench to kick a late conversion while fellow Falcon Andrew Davidson featured for Scotland in their historic pool victory over Australia.
Chick’s group became the third England team to win the Junior World Championship in the past four years, the 2015 tournament having seen them as losing finalists to New Zealand.
Ponton believes their record at age-group level signifies the current health of the English game, saying: “Rugby in this country is in a very good state.
“If we look at the seniors having a 3-0 series whitewash win in Australia on the back of a Six Nations Grand Slam, the Saxons winning a series in South Africa and the Under-20s winning three of the last four World Cups, there seems to be a depth and a forward planning to what they are doing.
“Stuart Lancaster did really well on that side of things and Eddie Jones is now the right man to take that on for the senior side. There are great coaches in both the Premiership and the England set-up and, while people will of course have different ideas, on the general side of things people are working together for the common goal.”
On Chick in particular, Ponton added: “Callum has put in a lot of hard work and is doing really well. He has made a conscious effort to work on specific areas to improve himself all along the way, and he is getting the rewards for that by beating some great players to that starting jersey.
“He is a good leader who is very knowledgeable about what he does, he does his homework and within a game context he has really developed his ball-carrying. That is now a real strength of his, he can break the tackle and get the ball away, and that bodes well for his development.”
The 19-year-old Ponteland native has already made his Falcons’ first-team debut after playing in last season’s European Challenge Cup, and Ponton believes a bright future awaits the AASE graduate.
“As for what comes next for Callum, he just needs to get more used to how Newcastle Falcons play the game,” said the academy coach, himself a former Premiership back-rower.
“That will be somewhat removed from what he has experienced in an academy set-up and it will take him a little bit of time, but all the training we have been doing with him is about having that ability to adapt. He should come through without too much problem if he keeps approaching it the way he has done so far.”