Charlie Ewels: Quantity has bred quality in England’s golden generation of locks

Charlie Ewels could be forgiven for thinking it his misfortune to be born in an age where England have second row forwards coming out of their ears.

He had to wait more than three years after his first cap for his Six Nations debut and last week against Ireland was on the bench as one of FIVE locks in England’s matchday squad.

A man who won one Junior World Cup playing alongside Maro Itoje, and captained England to the final of another a year later, might have hoped to be on a slighter faster track.

Yet rather than cursing his timing, Ewels thanks his lucky stars for being in the same talent pool as Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes.

The Bath forward said: “I don't think I'd be the player I am if it wasn't for the guys I'm competing with and who have been pushing me. I came through all the age group stuff with Maro, so straight away that was the standard I was used to at that age.

“We're fortunate to be playing in a generation where second row is a strong position for England. I don't think I'd be competing and pushing and growing my game like I have done if I hadn't been competing with these players.

“You can never look back at ifs, buts and maybes. You can only push towards what is front of you.”

Since playing alongside Ewels, Itoje has gone on to win 40 caps for England and the Lions and enjoy enormous success. His former second row partner is not remotely surprised.

“He's always been a brilliant athlete,” said Ewels, whom Jones used as a No.8 in the emphatic win over Ireland. “Maro was one of the best players then, playing like he does now – a big, physical guy, carries the ball, good set-piece.

“Everyone has got their strengths and weaknesses and across the five of us I'm trying to pick and choose the best bits from each of those guys to try and learn and add what they have to my game.

“With Maro it’s some of his contact and tackle work I'm trying to learn from, just like I'll speak to Joe about his work in the maul, George about his work in the line-out and Courtney about his tackling.

“You look at second-row and how that position has evolved and it is more of a link between front-row with set play and into back-row type responsibility and the need for high work-rate.

“It’s about working on all those skills and if that skill-set is what Eddie is looking for, then great.”

Playing alongside the likes of Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Priestland and new signing Rhys Webb for Bath reminds Ewels of the importance of beating Wales next week.

And the 24-year-old is ready to move heaven and earth to ensure England keep the bragging rights.

“The Welsh are a passionate country,” he said. “But so are we.”

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