Ollie Thorley believes the gap between senior and youth rugby is getting smaller after turning out for Gloucester Rugby at The Premiership Rugby / RFU U18 Academy Finals.
Thorley became the Cherry & Whites’ youngest ever player at 17 years and 59 days when he played against Northampton Saints in the LV= Cup in 2013.
And the young centre believes it is an exciting time for any player coming through an academy at an Aviva Premiership Rugby club.
“The boundary from youth rugby to senior rugby is shrinking, which is really exciting – having played for the first team I think it shows the other lads that it is possible,” he said.
“The good thing is the first team players make it as easy as they can for you and they’re really welcoming.
“I’ve had quite a few people take me under their wing, Rob Cook has been helping me work on positioning, Billy Twelvetrees is the captain and he’s been helping out.
“I’ve spoken to people like James Simpson-Daniel and last season Mike Tindall was really helpful – there is a plethora of players who are willing to contribute and help out.”
Thorley made his début in the centres alongside World Cup winner Tindall before he has even played a game for Gloucester’s A League team.
He will be ineligible to represent the Under-18s side next season and is hoping that his versatility can increase his opportunities in the first team.
“I would say 13 is my favourite position but I can play 12 or on the wing and maybe even full-back in the future,” he said.
“I like to be flexible and dynamic and play anywhere – as long as I’m on the pitch I’m happy. “
Thorley was left frustrated at the Academy Finals however, as his side succumbed to a narrow 11-6 defeat against Exeter Chiefs in the fifth-place play-off.
There was only one try, scored by Chiefs’ Declan Matthews mid-way through the first half, but it proved to be enough for the 2014 runners-up.
“It was more of a scrappy game than we were expecting, but to be fair to Exeter they were really physical with us and we were slow to start,” added Thorley.
“It was nice to sign off the season at Allianz Park but in terms of the result it was very frustrating.
“We can definitely see strong improvements as we’ve gone through the year, we’ve got a great bunch of guys and we’ve done really well.”
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