Daly building towards big season

Date published: August 25 2015

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England are busy trying to decide on their World Cup centres. It will be a big surprise if Elliot Daly isn't part of that conversation in 2019.

Daly was part of England's original 50-man group before missing the cut ahead of their training camp in Denver.

The 22-year-old is busy in pre-season with Wasps but made an impression on Stuart Lancaster during his time at Pennyhill Park.

Daly's versatility and pace, not to mention goalkicking, all make him one of the most talented young prospects in England. His time, like Maro Itoje, will surely come. 

"Being with the World Cup squad, to just be named in the 50, was awesome. It was disappointing not to go to Denver but with the buzz around the tournament it was great to be a small part," Daly told Planet Rugby.

"Getting myself and Maro involved and being in around the squad, the message to us was that we could be at that stage in a couple of years time.

"The intensity of the training was very high, almost like being in a full match, and I tried to take that back to me with Wasps with the way I improved my skills."

Daly has been left to get up to speed at Wasps – "if they need me I’m sure they will speak to Dai [Young, Wasps director of rugby]" – and feels better off for having one longer than normal pre-season.

“The two camps were very different but in many ways it feels like one long pre-season.

"You want to get as fit and strong as possible in a short time, but being with England for a bit gave me a start and by the time I came back to Wasps, that freshened me up." 

Everything about 2015 has been fresh for Wasps. The club are now rooted in Coventry after leaving High Wycombe, – which Daly admits he doesn't miss – and on the rise again with stronger investment and as a result some impressive recruitment.

"The calibre of the players we have signed – George Smith, Frank Halai and Jimmy Gopperth – has been very strong. It’s going to be a long season with not many breaks but we all just want to get started.

"Going up to Coventry halfway through last season has meant that coming into the new campaign, it hasn’t felt like a massive change. Coventry is now our home and we have all bought into it."

It's a far cry from when Daly helped Wasps avoid relegation by a single point in 2011/2012. That adversity now appears to the springboard for greater things.

"A lot of the young boys had to play a few games. But that’s made Wasps as a club now. We’ve come through the hard times and now we want to be in that top six," he explained.

Wasps unlike other clubs have been happy to give bigger names like Christian Wade a run in the Premiership Sevens and Daly feels as though he is reaping the benefits.

"I haven’t played Sevens since I was about 17 so it was good to get a run out, along with being in the new kit on the new turf at the Ricoh Arena was an awesome experience.

"You just pass [Wade] the ball very early and he can beat anyone as you saw on Friday. He’s been on the World Series as well so to have someone with that experience alongside you in training was a big help.

"It’s definitely beneficial. Some of pre-season hasn’t even been with a ball so to get that in your hands, practicing core skills, it’s been good. Playing in the tournaments gives me a different focus and there is such a long way to go until the season starts because of the Rugby World Cup that it’s nice to do something different."

The new season might be long but it could see Daly win a first Test cap in next year's Six Nations or on the 2016 tour to Australia if he carries his exceptional form into the new campaign.

Young players like George Ford, Henry Slade, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph are all making waves with England, and Daly feels like the next in line.

by Ben Coles

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