Academy scrum-half Jack Van Poortvliet says he was “excited” to make his Premiership Shield debut for Leicester Tigers in this week’s win over Sale Jets.
Norfolk-born Van Poortvliet has already shared in Tigers’ successful title defence in the Under-18 Academy League and earned selection for England Under-18s this season before stepping into the club’s Development XV this week.
He was used as a second-half replacement in the 38-24 victory over Sale Jets on Monday and said: “It’s a big step up, you really notice it. It’s a quick tempo, it’s intense but it’s a really good experience.
“I was told on Thursday when [academy manager] Dave Wilks phoned me and then it was just about keeping calm over the weekend and preparing for the game. It was exciting.
“The team was a really mixed group of boys, some academy, some a little bit older from the development squad, through to senior players, but they’re all very welcoming and make you feel comfortable as soon as you come in.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, and that league title win, the 17-year-old Van Poortvliet said: “It’s been a big year and to come away with back-to-back titles is great. Confidence kept building throughout the year and it was really good to be part of that.
“There was a bit of pressure in the back of your mind having won it the year before and you want to win it again because you remember how good it was last time, but when you get on the pitch you just want to do your job and win that game.”