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Coles: Saints have been pivotal in getting me to England U18 level

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Currently on tour with England Under-18s in South Africa for the U19 International Series Alex Coles has been selected to start for the side as they take on Wales tomorrow. 

The Saints' Academy lock says the opportunity to be on tour and get game time at such a high standard is something he is eager to get stuck into.

"Obviously I'm hugely excited [to play Wales]," Coles told us from South Africa.

"I've played Wales before and the rivalry between the two nations is fierce. They play a very competitive game and the intensity of the game they play, that's the game that we will have to play in response, it's going to pretty high intensity.

"It's just a great challenge and something that I'm really eager to get stuck in.

"We've had a really positive week. We've been looking at how Wales play closely and trying to think of ways that we can get round them or just ways that we can generally improve.

"I think set piece wise we've really been working on that well, but it's just been a positive week all round to be honest."

But its not all rugby on tour and Coles is enjoying spending his free time with his teammates.

"There's actually quite a lot that goes on outside of the rugby. Aside from the hard training, we do get a fair bit of free time.

"We've got four groups that we've set up in camp and we've got a bit of a competition going on with a few dance offs.

"We've also got a team song that we've been working on together. It's not the most elegant of songs but we're doing well with that.

"We're just chilling out really, a bit of cards here and there."

Coles and the England boys, including Saints' Senior Academy centre Fraser Dingwall, were lucky enough to visit a Game Park this week and Coles said that he's grateful that rugby has given him the opportunity to have experiences like that.

"That was an amazing experience," Coles said about the safari trip.

"I think for a lot of the boys that was the first time seeing animals like that in the wild, seeing lions for example, so that was really exciting, especially that rugby can give you these opportunities."

Coming back to the rugby, Coles praised his coaches at Saints for helping him develop into the player he is today and giving him the opportunity to tour with England.

"The Saints has been absolutely pivotal to getting me to this point.

"I came in not really knowing the ins and outs of what to do and for the last three or four years the club have got me here.

"They've pushed me when I needed to be pushed, given me the stick and the carrot. It's been hugely helpful.

"Mark Hopley, who now works with the first team, is a great forwards coach, he helped me a lot.

"Obviously our head coach is now Paul Diggin and he's a really good motivator of the team and he's been very helpful to me personally.

"Along with Simon Sinclair who's worked with me more as a sort of mentor, he's just been there for whatever my rugby needs or needs outside of that have been."

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