Exeter Chiefs youngster Billy Keast is hoping he will get more chances to impress after he capped his first start for the club with victory over Cardiff Blues on Sunday.
Having debuted the week previous against Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh, the 19-year-old Cornishman was thrown in from the outset against the Welsh region at Sandy Park.
Lining up in the front-row alongside Shaun Malton and Jack Owlett, who themselves were making their home debuts, the trio helped lead from the front as the Chiefs picked up all five points in a ten-try demolition of the Blues.
Although not on the scoresheet in the 62-25 success, the England Under-20s international figured for 72 minutes before he was replaced in the latter stages by debutant Will Norton.
“I loved every minute,” beamed the prop at the final whistle. “I didn’t realise I was going to get 70 minutes, but I really enjoyed it and it was great for the team to get back to winning ways.
“I think the boys had a bit of a point to prove after last week and the win has definitely put us right back in the group. To score ten tries and play the way we did was brilliant and hopefully it will be the lift the whole squad needed.”
With Keast one of 14 players to have come through the club’s academy system in Sunday’s match-day 23, the loose-head admitted it was great to line-up alongside a number of his mates in a senior fixture for the Devon club.
“Last week I made my debut and today was my first start, so it was amazing to be able to do with so many of the boys that I’ve grown up with, I absolutely loved it!”
Never afraid to offer youth it’s chance in the Anglo-Welsh competition, the Chiefs have previously used the tournament to kick-start the senior careers of players such as Jack Nowell, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill and Henry Slade.
Asked if this current group of young guns could tread a similar path, Keast joked: “It’ll be a big old ask to match what they’ve done, but you never know. All we can do is keep working hard and if we get a chance like today, we just have to do our best and see where it takes us.”
Just when Keast and Co will get their next chance is unknown, but training daily with the club’s wealth of senior and international stars will only help speed up that development.
“We’re training with the best each day up here,” acknowledged Keast, the son of former Redruth and Cornwall forward, Richard Keast. “Sometimes you pinch yourself when you come into training and your packing down against internationals, but that’s what we are up here for and it will only help improve my game.”
Also helping to develop Keast is his playing role down at National League One side Plymouth Albion, where he is one of a handful of current Chiefs playing on dual-registered terms.
“Getting senior game time is key for all of us,” he continued. “If we’re not up here the club, it’s good that we’re getting that exposure down at Plymouth where we can play and train with different players, learn different tactics, and just gain more experience.”