The long-term ambition remains playing for Eddie Jones’ England but Wasps centre Elliot Daly knows it’s his performances in Aviva Premiership Rugby that will propel him onto the international stage.
Croydon-born Daly has been a regular member of Jones’ matchday 23 since the Australian took over the England helm in 2015 but as yet the Wasps’ flyer has been unable to dethrone Bath’s Jonathan Joseph from the No.13 jersey.
The 23-year-old is adamant his international experience is aiding his club form and believes the England squad are developing all the time.
“Obviously I am really enjoying being in the England squad, it’s a really good environment and you see that from the performances as we’ve really improved as a team,” said former Whitgift pupil Daly, speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva Community Fund alongside team-mates Rob Miller and Kyle Eastmond.
“We need to challenge ourselves and really push ourselves to be the best team in the world.
“I am just trying to do as much as I can do push JJ (Jonathan Joseph) and people like that who have been playing really well – they are great players.
“It’s great to go into an England camp and have that pressure for places, there are quality players everywhere.
“If you perform for your club, it will go a long way to push your case for an England spot, you have to keep improving.”
The Aviva Community Fund is a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for inspirational local causes.
It has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.
And Daly says the memories he accumulated at the grassroots level of the game will live with him for a long time.
“I wanted to watch my brother play when I was four, I think the first age group was Under-6s and I had to wait two years but I turned up when I was five and they let me in and I went from there,” he added. “I wanted to get involved and play rugby.
“Every professional player has played grassroots rugby, everyone starts there it’s a great breeding ground for talent and it sets you off on the right path.
“I played at Beckenham and Dorking and at both of them I made so many friends that I still speak to today.
“I enjoyed going to training and playing matches, going to festivals and really challenging your skills against everyone in the county.”
Competition for places in Wasps’ midfield is nearly as tough as earning a starting berth for England presently; Jimmy Gopperth started the season brilliantly at inside centre, while the likes of Kurtley Beale have yet to feature and Kyle Eastmond is slowly returning to full fitness after injury.
According to Daly, Wasps excelled last season by reaching a domestic and European semi-final but as expectations start to mount in Coventry with the club top of the table, the England man is desperate to prove a point this term.
“Last year we probably over-achieved, we wanted top six and got top four, what a bonus for us and it was great season but we want to get better and see what happens,” he added.
“I think if we do what we do as a group hopefully we can improve on last year.
“I don’t think it adds more pressure. Everywhere in the Aviva Premiership there are talented teams, there’s no easy games and people are making big signings.
“Our new signings have settled in really well, everyone enjoys being here and being 10 or 20 minutes from each other rather than in London, where everyone was all over the shop, has helped.
“People have bought into that and it’s a great environment and the competition for places has also pushed us all on.”
Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from September 13.