The Fisher files

Jon Fisher’s first bulletin from the IRB Junior World Championship

For someone who has not been to Wales too many times, the actual journey to the venue of the 2008 IRB Junior World Championships can hardly be described as an adventure.

In fact, ‘straight down the M4’ is a far more appropriate way of describing the journey. Along with two other London Irish teammates, front row forwards Alex Corbisiero and James Clark, we left the calm, soothing surroundings of Sunbury-on-Thames on Monday afternoon to embark on our trip.

As we arrived at the Hilton in Newport the suspense began to build as I walked over to reception to find out who I would be rooming with throughout the entire three weeks.

The answer? “Er… Corbisiero, is it?” Fantastic. An 18 stone Italian-American who longs for a career in the World Wrestling Federation.

Once we had checked in, it was a chance to meet up with all the other guys who had also been back at their clubs after our week’s training camp in Bristol.

There were several surprises. Miles Benjamin had returned after an impressive season in the Guinness Premiership with Worcester and Hugo Ellis, our captain, found his way back via London Wasps after a cameo appearance in Eastenders where he has been playing Bradley Branning.

In all seriousness, the chance to meet up with the team again was a joy. For many of us, this is our last opportunity to play age grade rugby and playing with a team where the players are of the same age helps hugely in creating the bond required to be successful.

Personally, this season has been a major stepping stone for me. In my first year in professional rugby, I’ve been fortunate enough to make my Premiership debut as well as travelling to Hong Kong to represent England Sevens.

However, for Under 20 team and for me, the following three weeks presents itself as an opportunity to prove our ability on a world stage.

In order to build upon the success which the team achieved throughout the Six Nations, we must continue to train with an unparalleled intensity and pay further attention to the small details which will be greatly influential in the winning of the tight games.

When Martin Johnson recently came to speak with us, his resounding message was that ‘the small details win the big games’. Winning the Under 20 Grand Slam was obviously something of which we were all very proud. But now that is done and dusted, the Junior World Championship provides a far greater challenge.

The Fijians will bring a pace and physicality to our first game at Rodney Parade on Friday night which we will have to overcome if we are to be victorious and from my experience last year at the Under 19 World Championship in Belfast, it is clear that teams from the Southern Hemisphere are not to be taken lightly.

The training sessions we do are often short and sharp, but it is stressed by the leaders within the team that the intensity must be evident throughout. After a session on Tuesday evening which concentrated solely on our attacking play and attacking mindset, Wednesday’s session was centred around our defence.

Today, the day before the game, a captain’s run will take place where we will cover all the possibilities and situations we may face in the game and how we will look to play.

As the excitement throughout the team begins to build with each day, it is clear that our campaign to lift the trophy is finally about to begin.