Norfolk's latest England rugby star reveals secret to success
- Credit: PA
New England star Jack van Poortvliet has revealed the secret to his fine kicking game.
The 21-year-old, who made his first England start against Australia at the weekend, used to practice with an old set of rugby posts on a cow field on the family farm in Norfolk.
They were a Christmas present from his parents, who had bought the posts from North Walsham Rugby Club, the club Jack has honed his skills at from the age of five.
“Dad was at our rugby club and they were getting rid of some old posts,' said Leicester rookie Van Poortvliet, who scored on his England debut as a substitute against Australia before being handed a start in the second test victory.
“They had rusted and dad said he would pay for them. He gave them a fresh paint job and put them in the cow field.
“I used to have to cut the lawn around it. I cut out one line on the 22 and a path around the 22. Then I used to practise kicking off the 22. I would spend hours in that field. We had a little quad bike and sometimes my sister would mess around on it while I was kicking.”
“I struggled to start with but I would do it every winter until the cows came in, about April or May. They would leave in August-October time. For that whole period, every chance I would get I would go out and practise.”
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Johnny Wilkinson was Van Poortvliet’s idol growing up although his father, Jeff, was also a source of inspiration having played for Saracens in the amateur era before returning to work on the family farm in Norfolk and play for North Walsham.
“It was always Jonny growing up, watching him and copying everything I could about him,” he told the Daily Mail. “It was the same for everyone my age. It was the Jonny era.
“He was a big, big inspiration and someone I grew up idolising.
“Dad played for Saracens for a few years and left just before rugby went professional. He couldn't justify travelling two hours, three times a week when he had to be up at five or six in the morning to start work on the farm. He went back to Walsham and captained there. He was a flanker; an openside.”