Midlands call-up for young Melton RFC wing Harry Wood

Eighteen-year-old Harry Wood has become a regular on the wing for Melton RFC's First XV this season EMN-160114-093550002
Eighteen-year-old Harry Wood has become a regular on the wing for Melton RFC's First XV this season EMN-160114-093550002

Exciting young rugby prospect Harry Wood has a shot at winning England honours after he was named in the Midlands squad last week.

The 18-year-old was included in a 23-man Midlands Under 18s squad which will play two games next month against the Lambs - an independent schools XV – and the North.

Both games will be watched closely by national scouts to help them pick this season’s England Under 18s squad.

Wood has been a regular in Leicestershire age group sides for the last few seasons and has been selected for Midlands trial once before in 2014.

But this will be the first time he has represented his region after being shortlisted from an initial assessment squad of 50 players.

He said: “I’ve played for the county since under 15s and then had a previous trial for the Midlands and didn’t get in, but this year I trialled as a winger and got into the final 23.

“I was just really happy to finally get in.”

Wood, from Waltham, puts his improvement down to playing regular senior First XV rugby at Melton as well as a positional switch from his previous roles at centre and full-back.

First XV head coach Gareth Collins moved him onto the wing this season where he has added tries in almost every game he has started.

“When I took over at Melton, Harry was just entering the Colts set-up and I was hugely impressed with his raw ability,” Collins said.

“He has a natural ability when running with the ball and is blessed with real pace.”

While Wood still turns out for Melton RFC Colts in important cup ties, the senior side now takes priority which Wood believes has been key to his graduation into regional rugby.

“I think I’ve only missed three First XV games for the whole season,” he said. “We have a good coach and I get on well with all of the first team.

“That has brought my confidence on loads which has been the main part of getting into the Midlands squad.

“It’s a lot better playing first team rugby because everyone is at a good standard and that helps my game massively.”

The Leicester Tigers have also had a hand in Wood’s development as he graduated through from their School of Rugby into their Elite Player Development Group.

For two seasons in his mid-teens he was selected for the Tigers’ Gold Group, an elite squad hand-picked from their Development Player Programmes across several counties, and represented Leicester a handful of times against junior sides from other Premiership clubs.

Collins added: “Harry has worked hard over the last two seasons on his all-round game and has progressed into a superb winger.

“He has had a number of outstanding performances for the first team year this season, in particular demonstrating some lethal finishing.

“Harry has a real future in the game and I hope he will go on to play at a higher level in the near future, but for now I’m happy to have him at Melton.”