Josh Beaumont achieved a lifelong ambition by being named in Eddie Jones’ first England squad on Wednesday – but he knows the hard work with club and country only starts here.
The Sale Shark, equally adept at lock or as a loose forward, is one of seven uncapped players to be included Jones’ 33-man Elite Player Squad for the 2016 Six Nations.
And his call-up will come of no surprise to anyone who has watched Sale Sharks play over the last 18 months, excelling as both an accomplished lineout operator and an explosive ball-carrier.
Josh will not be the only Beaumont to don the Red Rose – his father Bill is a former England captain and British & Irish Lion lock, and was handed his first cap at 22.
In an ironic twist Beaumont junior is the same age, but he insists there is no added pressure and credits Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond as the man who set him on his path.
“You do get the ‘son of…’ label but I’m used to it!” said Beaumont. “Hopefully now I’m at a level where I there for a reason not because of your name but because of the performance you’re putting in.
“I’m aware of it obviously but I just need to keep concentrating on my own game.
“As a child growing up it was a dream of mine to play for England but when I went to university I was focussing on a career outside rugby.
“But since Steve Diamond signed me and gave me my chance, playing for my country has become my ambition.
“Sale do give the young guys the opportunities and there are a lot of English players playing well at the moment. It’s great to see and great to be a part of as well.”
First things first – with the Six Nations still three weeks away – is a European fortnight, and Sale can go a long way to securing their place in the Challenge Cup knockouts with a win at Pau.
It’s a close-run thing in Pool 2, but Beaumont admits the battle in Aviva Premiership Rugby this year and the superb double-header of wins over Castres has prepared his side for anything that can be thrown at them across the channel.
“Now that we’ve got those home and away wins against Castres, it’s put us in a good position and it’s up to us now to win the next two games and get a home quarter final,” he said.
“I think we’re definitely capable of doing it and it would be a shame to put in all that hard work against those teams and let it go to waste.
“Pau play in more of a stereotypical ‘French way’ than Castres, they like throwing the ball around and score long range tries with their dangerous runners. It’s for us to stop them doing that. We’ve already played the once and beaten them so we know we’re capable of doing that; it’s a good opportunity.
“I think we’re probably playing better as a team than we did last year but it’s those tight losses against Gloucester and Harlequins and a draw against Newcastle, if we had turned those into wins then we’d be looking at the top of the Premiership almost.
“We’ve got to learn from that and turn those losses into wins.”