England: Jack Willis ‘overcomes mental hurdles’ with international comeback

Date published: June 23 2022 - Colin Newboult

Flanker Jack Willis admitted that it was a huge relief to come through his England comeback unscathed during the defeat to the Barbarians.

Despite the heavy 52-21 loss, it was a special day for Willis as the back-row played his first game for the Red Rose since that horrific knee injury suffered in February 2021.

On that day against Italy, Willis also came off the bench and the flanker conceded that it was on his mind when he made his entrance at Twickenham.

A few reminders

“I was overcoming a few mental hurdles coming off the bench at Twickenham again. I think I’d probably dealt with those real battles a long time ago, but there were a few reminders,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I woke up thinking about the scenario unfolding, of me coming off the bench, and thought, ‘Oh, that’s how it unfolded last time’.

“I feel like I’ve been on a long road now over the last couple of years. There have definitely been some low points, but I’ve had that burning desire to put that England shirt on again.

“It makes me feel like I’m getting better each day and it’s pushing me to my max. It’s something I’ve dreamt of since being a little lad.”

England head into their three-Test tour of Australia on the back of a hammering at the hands of the Barbarians and Willis admitted that it left them with plenty to ponder.

“The good thing is there are some big learnings for the tour to Australia,” he added.

“We weren’t good enough at the breakdown. The breakdown has got to improve. If we want to play the way we want to in attack, we’ve got to be more clinical around that.

“Whoever is selected for Australia needs to put their best foot forward to replicate what happened in 2016 (when England took the series 3-0).”

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