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Louis Lynagh has one major concern about his first England training camp this weekend: what to wear. There have been a few faux pas in the past: Dylan Hartley would often recall how he once turned up in flip-flops, while Elliot Daly has not been able to shake the nickname “Briefcase” after arriving at Wasps in school uniform. But, if Lynagh’s fashion sense is anything like his finishing, he is likely to be fine.
The 20-year-old wing has made only 14 appearances for Harlequins but he has developed a knack for try-scoring, following up two in the Premiership final last season with another double at Newcastle last Sunday. Form like that and a name as famous as his was always likely to cause a stir, all the more so when his father – the 1991 World Cup winning Australia fly-half Michael – lamented on social media in June how, while the Wallabies and Italy had sounded his son out about his future intentions, the Rugby Football Union had not.
Louis was born in Treviso and his mother, Isabella, is Italian. He is eligible to play for all three nations and when Eddie Jones overlooked him over the summer it looked as if his international future might lie elsewhere. Jones saw fit to call up Lynagh junior on Tuesday, however, and while that comes with no guarantees, his new Harlequins coach, Tabai Matson, believes the youngster is adept at handling pressure. Lynagh himself agrees.
“Ever since schoolboy level at the back of my mind I’ve known [people] will be saying ‘That’s so and so’s son’,” he says. “It’s always been like that and, even if I score two tries or run the length of the field, they’ll call me a bad player. Ever since then I’ve always been trying to overcome those odds and I think I now really enjoy pressure and those pressurised situations. Being put in a group of 44 other guys who are regarded as the best in the country, I think I can only get better from that.”
Perhaps mindful that this weekend’s mini-camp will offer no guarantees, however, Lynagh exercises diplomacy when asked if he is about to nail his colours to the mast. “I’m lucky enough to have three countries I can support and I’ve never really supported one,” he says. “So it’s just been I’ve been watching the game, especially when Australia and England play each other I am more just watching the rugby and seeing what I could do better.”
It would be hard to top the fairytale nature of Lynagh’s emergence, especially with England’s second autumn international in November being against Australia. As Matson remarked, “He’s got great raw material. Clearly the genetics are there.” And his cause can be only helped by his ability to play full-back.
He will be surrounded by familiar faces at the England camp, too – he is one of seven Harlequins players selected – and, though Mike Brown has moved to Newcastle, the 72-cap fullback remains someone to call on. “I’m more afraid of what to wear to the camp than actually training,” jokes Lynagh. “I talk to [Mike] a lot about how to recover from such a step up that the training will be and what to expect. I’m told there’s going to be very few mistakes. I already expected that.”
So how does Michael feel about Louis representing England? He is one of three brothers – Tom plays in Queensland and Nicolo is in the Quins academy but Louis is likely to be the first to earn international honours. “The best thing about my dad is he is like any other dad, he just wants to see all three of us do the best we can with our careers and he will be proud of us no matter who we play for,” he adds.
He does still have the odd word of wisdom, however. “He wouldn’t be my dad if he wasn’t always criticising me. It was more when I was younger, there was a period when he thought I wasn’t taking advantage of natural talent I had so he was pretty hard on me back then. After the [Premiership] final he said, ‘why don’t you put the ball down normally instead of diving?’, I was like ‘Dad, why don’t you just let me have my moment please?” If his current trajectory continues there should be a few more moments to savour.