Jack Willis determined to build on impressive debut with England

Jack Willis is determined to continue winning England caps so that he can truly celebrate the birth of his international career with friends and family at Twickenham.

With all Autumn Nations Cup matches taking place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, Willis’ pleasing debut against Georgia last Saturday took place in front of empty stands.

“I had a Facetime with my missus and parents afterwards. It was lovely to have a chat with them,” Willis said.

“It’s just very strange times doing it over Facetime, but it doesn’t make it any less special. It was incredible to have the cap on my head and show them that with a smile on my face.

Jack Willis scores his try against Georgia
Jack Willis scores his try against Georgia (David Davies/PA)

“It was a very strange experience not to have family and friends there but it’s given me extra motivation to work hard enough to have another opportunity one day and have them here.”

Willis’ first-half try was the highlight of an impressive first cap, but the all-action Wasps flanker has already set his sights on making the improvements needed to stay in contention.

Willis is operating in the most competitive position of the team and, having demonstrated against Georgia that a promising Test future lies ahead, he is unlikely to be present in the starting back row for Ireland’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday.

Tom Curry and Sam Underhill are England’s first-choice flankers, with Ben Earl offering cover on the bench, and it is against this high quality trio that a player described by Eddie Jones as “flipping tough” must prove himself.

Sam Underhill, left, and Tom Curry, centre, are favourites of head coach Eddie Jones
Sam Underhill, left, and Tom Curry, centre, are favourites of head coach Eddie Jones (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’ve got to work incredibly hard to improve all areas of my game if I want to keep competing in this back row. There’s some pretty special talent in that mix,” Willis said.

“For everyone in the team, if you don’t continue improving, then you are going to get left behind. So at the forefront of my mind is working hard, trying to improve and staying in that mix.

“I’d love another opportunity, it would be incredible. Everyone in this group would love an opportunity next week against Ireland.

“I have learnt a lot being in camp over the last couple of weeks about what it takes to push yourself to the next level, and now it’s just about applying that week on week throughout a season.”

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