Leicester Tigers prop Joe Heyes admits it was a big surprise to be given his first start for England Under-20s as a newcomer to the age group this season.
Heyes is among the youngest members of the Under-20s squad but, after sitting out England’s opening win over Italy, he started at tighthead prop for the Round 2 encounter with Wales at Newcastle last Friday.
“It was a big surprise to get a starting spot,” said 18-year-old Heyes. “I was shocked because Wales had been so dominant with their pack and me being so new. I wasn’t even sure about getting a bench spot, so it was great to start.”
England made it two wins from two games with a 37-12 victory, with Heyes playing the opening 50 minutes after playing at Under-18 representative level last year.
“I was so up for the game,” added Heyes who had his parents and grandparents in the crowd to share the occasion. “I so excited and nervous, but as soon as I got out there I gave it everything.”
There were some familiar faces around him for his first cap with Tigers clubmates Ben White and Tommy Reffell captaining their respective teams and Jordan Olowofela, Sam Lewis and Tom Hardwick also in the England squad.
“It’s great to see lads going so well,” Heyes said. “I played against Tommy twice last year with the Under-18s so it feels normal! He’s doing pretty well for himself as captain.”