Esher fullback Luke Daniels may have made 10 appearances in the first team last season and made his England Counties debut, but he has not yet cracked the nut of professional sport, writes Muhammed Sher.
The 20-year-old penned a new one-year deal with head coach Ollie Smith’s men this week having worked his way up through the club’s academy ranks last term.
Daniels, who played his formative rugby at one of South Africa’s top educational establishments in Grey High School, has only been in the UK for just over a year but has already made a name for himself in rugby circles.
A seven-month stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury almost saw Daniels return home to Port Elizabeth but after deciding to stay he flourished in the club’s academy side.
But he roared back to form, culminating in a try – a contender for try of the season – at London Scottish on the final day of the campaign.
Honours with Surrey and England Counties have followed but the youngster is now really hoping to push on under the guidance of former British & Irish Lion Smith.
“As I’m still young I have a lot to learn,” he said.
“I think I have gained a good foundation of skills and have a fierce passion for rugby and Ollie, with all his playing experience, will definitely help me develop as a player.
“My experience at Esher on and off the field has been amazing thus far. I was obviously gutted when we were relegated, but with a really good bunch of the lads staying, to carry on here was an easy decision to make.
“I think the new set-up at the club is really positive and I believe we will put up a really strong fight for promotion back into the Championship at the first attempt.”
Smith saw scrum half James Mackenzie and fly half Mark Atkinson – who has joined Bedford Blues – become the latest names to quit Molesey Road this week, following Perry-John Parker and Phil Mackenzie out of the exit door.
But Smith admitted movements were inevitable as he looks to rebuild his squad for life in National Division One.
“The players moving on do so with our best wishes. Professional rugby is tough and uncompromising and player movement is now part and parcel of our sport,” he added.