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Academy duo won’t take England call for granted

An England call-up is a ‘massive honour’ for two Tigers Academy players, who assure they won’t be taking anything for granted as they prepare to fly out to South Africa this weekend.

Archie Vanes and Kit Smith – alongside Academy team-mates Emeka Ilione and Sam Edwards – are part of a 26-man England Under-18s squad for this summer’s annual development tour, with fixtures against Argentina and France’s age-grade sides before taking on South Africa Schools.

“The England thing is just a bonus, but we’ve got to push on here, too.”

Archie Vanes

And while international recognition is a decent cherry on the top of a 12-month period which has seen their Academy side scoop the second of back-to-back league titles, neither fails to appreciate the challenge ahead.

Back-rower Smith said: “This is what we’ve been aiming for for quite a few years, so it’s nice to get the news.

“It’s a massive honour to earn the call-up. As a kid, you look up to the national team as something to aim for, and I think it’s everyone’s dream to play for your country.

“[But] every time you achieve something, you’ve got to push yourself further and never be happy with the level you’re at.

“We’ll keep working, go out there, and see what happens.”

Vanes – who started February’s Grand Final win at hooker – is equally pragmatic.

“It feels good, and there’s a bit of pride there because we’ve obviously worked hard to get there,” the Brooksby Melton College student added.

“All the lads are really happy for us, but when we’re here [with Tigers], it’s about focusing hard on Tigers training and having a good pre-season.

“The England thing is just a bonus, but we’ve got to push on here, too.”

“Never be happy with the level that you’re at.”

Kit Smith

The pair also face taking on a more senior role in the club’s Academy set-up this season, given they will move up to a second year at that level when the new league campaign rolls around in December.

Vanes continued: “We’ve got to keep our standards up, drive everything and probably show more of a professional attitude towards everything to set an example for the younger boys coming up.”

England Under-18s fly out to South Africa yhis weekend, with their first match against Argentina on Friday, August 9. They face France on Tuesday, August 13 before closing the tour against South Africa Schools on Saturday, August 17.