Jordan Olowofela is making the most of what the Leicester winger believes is an “opportunity” for him to stake a claim in the senior side at Tigers.
Following the departures of Jonny May and Jonah Holmes, as well as experienced campaigner Adam Thompstone, the 22-year-old is in the box seat to add to his 39 appearances for the club.
"I want to make the most of the chance now and do my bit for the club as much as I can"
After debuting in 2017, following an exciting rise through the ranks of the club, Olowofela was picked at centre, wing and full-back in Anglo-Welsh Cup and European fixtures, before being handed a Premiership debut at Twickenham against Bath Rugby.
A starring role in the England campaign on the way to the final of the 2018 World Rugby Under-20s Championship put the Tigers speedster on the map and a new senior contract followed.
With May and Holmes both out of the side on occasion for international duty, Olowofela’s form on the world stage and in Cup and Shield fixtures for Tigers was enough to see him handed chances to prove himself at the top-level.
Now, with the duo out of the picture, the not-so-youngster is chasing consistency, not just caps.
“I have got an opportunity to try and go on with it a bit now,” Olowofela says, following the second day of training during Week 3 of Phase 1.
“Jonny and Jonah have left and that gives me an opportunity to keep working towards being in that senior side more consistently.
“I want to make the most of the chance now and do my bit for the club as much as I can.”
On the edges of the back-line, he will compete with Sam Aspland-Robinson and fellow Academy graduates Freddie Steward and Joe Browning, for a place, as well as new recruits Harry Potter and Fiji international Nemani Nadolo.
The latter, while an opponent for a place in the starting side, is someone Olowofela can’t wait to start working with and, thankfully, on matchday at least, not against.
Nemani is a big man and has done some great things in rugby all over the world, so the opportunity to train with and learn from him is exciting,” he adds, with the wry smile that often follows a simple, no-nonsense assessment from Olowofela.
Before adding, “I am glad I don’t have to play against him on the weekend!”
Since returning, more than a fortnight ago, what Olowofela has most enjoyed has been the company on the pitch.
“It’s good to be back, it was a long time of training alone and without any games,” Olowofela says, with a nod of approval.
“I think we all missed the training with each other and, obviously, missed having the chance to play at the weekends.”
And, even if it’s still on limited duties and in small groups, the Tigers speedster says the “mood is good” and atmosphere at Oval Park has been upbeat.
“The mood is good, everyone is excited about being able to be back on the pitch together,” says Olowofela.
“It is still just groups of 10 or less so you only see guys when you’re moving from the gym to pitch or coming and going from Oval Park.
“But, even just being able to see guys again in person and not on WhatsApp or Zoom is better and feels normal again.”
Normality might be a stretch but the eternal optimist, Olowofela, says while the sessions have been “really tough” in the summer sun and focused solely on strength and conditioning, the effort levels are impressive and “important” before returning to action.
“It has been really tough but, the squad came back in good condition and the work we are doing now is important for us to have done before we start playing again,” he says, when asked about the summer slog they have endured in the first two weeks.
“The sessions have felt like pre-season with the heat and the kind of training we are doing but, I guess it is a mini pre-season after three months without a game.”