London Irish fly-half Jacob Atkins will be looking to build on his impressive breakthrough season at Berkshire based London Irish by getting more first team experience and learning from the senior players in the squad.
Atkins, who has been with Irish since he was 16 made his professional debut against Ospreys in the British and Irish cup in January this year.
But Atkins who has been a supporter of London Irish all of his life admits that his proudest moment so far in an Irish shirt came at a different match.
“Making my home debut against Connacht, running out at the Madejski stadium for the first time was a great experience. Also being on the bench in the St-Patricks day game last weekend was a very proud moment, having been to watch so many of them as a young supporter I was extremely excited to be involved in my first.”
The fly-half signed a professional deal during the summer in 2016 after finishing his A-Levels at St Paul’s College. Whilst studying he was also part of the AASE programme (Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence).
The youngster is keen to build on his first team appearances for the rest of the season for London Irish who are 17 points clear at the top of the Championship and are looking good for an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.
“I’ve loved the game time I’ve got for the first team so far this season and my goal is to put my hand up for selection and take my opportunities when they arise.”
Atkins, also explained about how much he is learning and developing from the more experienced players in the London Irish squad.
“To be honest I’m just trying to improve as much as possible and learn as much as I can from the senior players in the squad. We have a fantastic environment where the more experienced players do all they can to help the younger players develop their game.”
He also found loans at Sutton and Epsom, a valuable experience whilst he was contracted to London Irish after joining from Bracknell RFC.
“As a junior I played my rugby for Bracknell RFC, when I was 16 I joined the London irish academy and subsequently the AASE programme. I’ve spent time on loan at two clubs; last year Sutton and Epsom and this year I’ve spent time on loan at redinensians RFC which has been a great experience.”
And Atkins will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his idols Jonny Wilkinson and Johnny Sexton who he feels their work rate is fantastic during games.
“Jonny Wilkinson and Johnny sexton were both players I loved to watch growing up; I definitely try my best to replicate their work rate and attention to detail in their preparation.”
The young fly-half paid tribute to the London Irish fans who have welcomed him and the other younger players in the squad with open arms since their first appearances for the club.
“The support that me and the other young players in the squad have received this year has been overwhelming. We definitely have some of the best fans in the country and there’s no better feeling that putting in a good performance in front of them. It’s clear that people who support our club are truly dedicated rugby fans.”
London Irish are next in action against Jersey at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday 2nd April where Atkins will be looking to get more game time and experience under his belt.
You can follow Jacob’s progress on Twitter here!