Saracens test teenager Nick Isiekwe is slowly on his way to becoming the best second row in England.
Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, prior to the 2017 B&I Lions tour to New Zealand, England's second row stores seemed otherworldly, with Itoje and Kruis rocketing to the top of England's pecking order ahead of the ever impressive, long-standing combination of Lawes and Launchbury.
The rise of Itoje, in particular, was astronomic. Known fondly by his Saracens teammates as 'pearl', the man of Nigerian descent became England's and the Lions best second row at the ripe age of 22. If not for the multidimensional Kiwi pairing of Brodie Rettalick and Sam Whitelock, Itoje could have been crowned the best in the world in a notoriously abrasive position often dominated by the most wily campaigners such Wales' Alun-Wyn Jones and Ireland's Paul O'Connell.
George Kruis may not have been the most physically imposing or athletic forward in the world, but his lineout intelligence seemed almost surgically transplanted from the brain of England coach and lineout guru Steve Borthwick and became one of England's most important forwards at a time.
Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury seemed destined to become one of the professional eras most talented locking pairing in the early 2010's, however, their progression did not follow forecasted path and became solid international test starters. The sudden rise of Kruis and Itoje seemed to jump-start both Lawes and Launchbury into gear and up to the next level, making England's depth of world-class locks the envy of even the mighty All Blacks.
But enough of the history lessons and smoke blowing. While the four locks have dropped off the levels of 2016 and 2017, they remain some of the best in the world and a serious strength for head coach Eddie Jones. However, these are not the men we are addressing today, in fact, the man currently on course to eclipse all of the formerly mentioned test stars is a mere teenager rising to the top of Saracens ranks.
19-year-old Nick Isiekwe has quietly been eclipsing the rise of a man currently popping up all over your tv, Mr Itoje. Isiekwe has become such an integral part of Saracens side, he has found himself featured at blindside flanker to accommodate the return of Itoje and Kruis from international duty and the absence of injured backrow duo Billy Vunipola and Micheal Rhodes.
The sheer frame of the teenager paired with top-notch physicality, athleticism, lineout prowess and intelligent decision making has been relatively under the radar. Itoje's drop in form and explosive return to Premiership action against Harlequins last month has kept the spotlight well away from Isiekwe.
This is arguably the best possible outcome for the youngster. So often young stars touted for greatness struggle to deal with the pressure placed on them by fans, teammates and the media. With Sarries England cohort stealing the show, Isiekwe has been able to go about his business in spectacularly effective fashion.
The Hemer-Hempstead born forward's path is currently set to finish with a starting role for England. His impacts during 80 minutes rarely feature in highlight reels, something more commendable than many realise. Isiekwe is not being talked up on social media for attractive 40-meter runs and extraordinary touches like Bath number eight Zach Mercer but is going about his business in tremendously effective fashion.
At 6ft5" and 111kg Isiekwe still has plenty of time to perfect his frame. When you consider most forwards don't hit their physical peak until their early to mid-twenties, there is plenty of time for the teenager to add the extra few kilograms of muscle and deft offloading skills, which he will need to challenge the rest of the best on the international scene.
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