In a fiercely competitive Saracens side Jackson Wray is content to be a utility man, but the back rower admits a run at the No.8 shirt is an opportunity not to be missed.
With two Aviva Premiership Rugby starts to his name this season – both wearing the No.6 shirt – Wray has been used sparingly by Mark McCall to date.
However, with Billy Vunipola and a number of others absent on international duty, the 24-year-old is eyeing up a pivotal period for both himself and the club.
Starting with a trip to Leicester Tigers on Sunday, where Wray will start at No.8, he is eager to re-discover the form that played him into Stuart Lancaster’s England thoughts last season.
“At Saracens six and eight are very similar in terms of what they demand but I do enjoy the base of the scrum work and I am looking forward to playing there this weekend,” he said.
“The competition in the back row is massive and I do enjoy playing with Billy but not having him around gives me more opportunities and I just want to make the most of them.
“All around the team it is competition for places and that is what we want. Our back row is one of the best and it is exciting, really. Hopefully in the next few weeks we can kick on as a squad.
“In Europe we had a big win against Clermont and then unfortunately lost down at Munster but we felt there was enough to take from those games. Then in the LV= period a lot of the boys put in big performances so confidence is high.”
That international form last season earned Wray a spot in Lancaster’s 55-man training squad in Loughborough at the end of the summer.
And while competition in England’s back row is rife, the Sunderland-born forward insists that a taste of the top level has spurred him on to prove that is where he belongs in the future.
“I really enjoyed that week,” added Wray. “It was a tough week but it was brilliant to be involved and that sort of thing gives you a taste of what it is like and I am fighting away to keep improving every week.
“It is a very tough pace to be in the back row at the moment – there are a lot of good players who aren’t even in the fold. I just need to keep improving and hopefully, from there on, we will see.”
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