Callum Chick's journey to England squad from grassroots prospect to Newcastle Falcons star

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Callum Chick has progressed to the Eddie Jones' England squad after a meteoric rise at Newcastle Falcons
Callum Chick has progressed to the Eddie Jones' England squad after a meteoric rise at Newcastle Falcons

Callum Chick has made it into Eddie Jones’ good books, and the Newcastle Falcons No.8 is in contention for a place in the national side, after a true grassroots to great journey to the top table, for the 24-year old Falcon.

Chick has been named by Jones in his 34-man squad for England’s Autumn internationals against Tonga, Australia, and South Africa, having made his international debut in the 43-29 win over USA in July.

Chick’s new Falcons colleague Mike Brown has enjoyed a glittering career, representing the Rose, and Chick, the northern sides homegrown talent, will be hoping to follow Brown’s lead in more than one sense given the 36-year-old full-back’s lengthy international career saw him rack up 72 caps for his country.

“Browny’s a top bloke, he’s fitted in straight away with the lads up here, he’s obviously got a wealth of knowledge from playing the game for such a long amount of time because he’s obviously very, very old now,” teased Chick.

“So, speaking to him and trying to get what I can out of him, watching him train and seeing how he reads the game is important.”

Brown is not the only former Quins legend Chick can lean on for support, with Newcastle defence coach Nick Easter a 54-cap international who he grew up idolising in his position, although the former England forward was not Chick’s first rugby hero.

Callum Chick has impressed for Newcastle Falcons under Dean Richards and Nick Easter
Callum Chick has impressed for Newcastle Falcons under Dean Richards and Nick Easter

“Growing up I was a bit smaller and a bit fatter, but I somehow thought I was going to be Jonah Lomu for some reason,” explained Chick.

“But then people in my position Kieran Read, [Imanol] Harinordoquy, [Sergio] Parisse, those sorts of players have set the standard for number 8’s.

“Nick Easter who now coaches us was someone who I watched a lot of as a kid, so it was a little bit surreal when he came up, but it’s that world where he’s gone into coaching and he’s doing a great job up here.

“I like the way he defends, and I like the way he’s coaching so it’s good to have that influence here.”

Chick will now be setting his sights on regular appearances at Twickenham, but it was his very first time at rugby’s HQ, as part of Land Rover’s Premiership Rugby Cup, that set him on his path to the top.

“I was part of the first Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup hosted by Newcastle Falcons, when I was 12 and I loved it,” explained Chick.

“We played on Kingston Park, and it was during the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup that I first got noticed by the Falcons.

“We [Ponteland RFC] came second so had a trip down to Twickenham and as a young kid having never been to Twickenham before it was obviously a fantastic experience for myself.

“The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup opened a lot of doors for me. It made me realise how much I enjoyed rugby by going down to Twickenham and soaking up the atmosphere and loving every minute of it.”

Chick, who won the 2016 World Rugby Under-20s Championship alongside fellow England squad members Max Malins and Joe Marchant, is under no illusions about the challenges he faces to make it into Jones’ matchday 23.

With Saracens bulldozer Billy Vunipola out of favour, Chick will compete with Harlequins’ Premiership-winner Alex Dombrandt and Exeter Chiefs’ British & Irish Lion Sam Simmonds for the No.8 jersey - something that he feels will only drive him onto better things.

“It’s very competitive in a lot of positions but especially No.8. It’s exciting for me because it means I’ve got to perform at my best to get the opportunities, which can only be good, I’ve got to push myself and see where I can go,” said Chick.

“As those boys will as well, I imagine. I’ve met them both - they are both top blokes off the pitch but on the pitch obviously it’s competitive and there’s only one position up for grabs.

“We are all going to be trying to throw our hat in the ring and hopefully I can do enough to put my foot in the door.”

The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is testament to Land Rover’s commitment to supporting rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite. Follow @LandRoverRugby to discover more. #LandRoverRugby

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