Newcastle Falcons’ fly-half factory is doing a neat sideline in tight-head props, Scott Wilson the latest to roll off the production line.
The club that brought through England’s Davey Wilson has another bright prospect in its midst, namesake Scott having been quietly ploughing his own furrow since making his senior debut a year ago. Tomorrow he starts against Italian visitors Calvisano in the Amlin Challenge Cup, and the Berwick forward was finally wheeled out for the media in his first interview as a professional.
A renowned man of few words even away from the dictaphone, his scrummaging has so far done the talking in a fledgling career which has seen him winning the Under-20s World Cup, taking naturally to the senior stage and more than holding his own against some of the most gnarled, niggling loose-heads on the Premiership circuit.
Speak to people who matter and they say he has what it takes, a path to potential greatness which started at Berwick Rugby Club, aged six.
“I was a versatile player – I could play tight-head or loose-head prop,” he jokes, in the dry understated style of humour which punctuates an insightful 20 minutes. “We didn’t really play rugby at school, so I went to my local club in Berwick. I was always the big kid, and destined to be a prop. I tried my hand at hammer-throwing when I was a teenager, but I stuck with the rugby.”
Taking time to credit some of those who helped him along the way, the 19-year-old is keen to thank his uncle Ian for ferrying him to training and games, as well as Berwick coach Dougie Hall for helping hone his ability.
Power and work ethic would earn him a sixth-form place at the famed rugby schooling ground of Sedbergh, as well as putting him on Newcastle Falcons’ radar in his early teens.
“I was about 14 when I first got involved with the Falcons,” he recalls. “I came down for a week, and from there it was a couple of hours’ training on a weeknight.
“I always thought of Newcastle Falcons as my local club, even being as far up as Berwick. I used to stand on the North Terrace getting soaked watching the first-team as a supporter. I just loved it, and so the chance to now be playing for the Falcons is amazing.”
Idolising All Black icon Carl Hayman during his time on Tyneside, the youngster adds: “Carl was a big influence when I first got involved with the Falcons. I was only young at the time so it was mainly just watching him playing and training. You can learn so much from that, and I have tried to base myself around a lot of the things he did at the time.
“I had the chance to work with him on a few occasions – not as much as I probably would have liked, but the sessions we did do together were a massive help for me at the time.”
Making the step into the adult arena has stopped many a career at source, but for Wilson there were no such worries as Tynedale provided the ideal arena to get accustomed to the physicality of senior action in the third tier of the English club game.
He says: “Tynedale was really good for me, especially as an introduction into adult rugby where you are playing against bigger guys as a young player.”
Coaching Tynedale at the time was Ian Peel, who is now the England Under-20s coach,and one of the men who steered England last summer to their first ever Under-20s World Cup crown. Anchoring their scrum was Wilson, recalling: “It was a great experience.
“We were away for about a month, and worked incredibly hard. The main thing about the team was that we thought of ourselves as a family. We all got on, and there was no situation where people were saying things behind people’s backs or anything like that; the sort of thing you might expect when such a big group spends so much time together.
“It was a good team, to start with, but the way the group came together and the work ethic we had was a massive part of the reason we were so successful.”
Hoping to continue that momentum with Newcastle, Wilson says: “I am just loving the whole experience, and trying to make the most of the game-time I have been getting. I think I have handled myself OK, but it is very early days.
“The way the Falcons have handled me has been sensible, and you have always got to be careful about workload, injuries and those sorts of things.
“Like any player I obviously want to play every game, but I can also take a step back and appreciate that the way the coaches are bringing me on is the best way to go about it.”