How much better would your team be if they got back their hottest youth prospect? Steve Smith takes a look at how different the Premiership might look…
In an ever-demanding league where results remain king, there’s still pressure on top-flight clubs to bring through their own young talent. It doesn’t always work out – sometimes youngsters have to move on to truly establish themselves in starting roles elsewhere – but the rewards are particularly fruitful when things do go to plan…
So which former prospects would current Premiership clubs now take back if they could? (For these purposes, any player training with a club by the age of 17 counts as an ex-academy option.
Bath Rugby (Alex Goode)
All-rounder Goode appeared at the national
Bristol Bears (Ellis Genge)
The Bears have tried to bring Genge home on a number of occasions, but he’s instead commited himself to Leicester Tigers.
A ball-carrying No8 through age-group rugby, Genge was converted to loosehead prop and joined Tigers on loan from hometown club Bristol in the final months of the 2015/16 season before making the move permanent.
He quickly made a big impression, starting the final league game of 2015/16 at Bath and then playing in the Premiership semi-final at Saracens before being called into the senior England squad alongside club colleagues Dan Cole and Ben Youngs.
His Test debut came in a win against Wales at Twickenham and he’s since accumulated 16 caps, scoring two tries.
Exeter Chiefs: Ed Holmes
The Chiefs have done better than most at hanging onto their best young talent with Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie among others committing themselves.
One quality operator who got away was Holmes, who signed for Bristol after helping the Bears to promotion in 2018. The second-row has since became a pillar of Pat Lam’s impressive pack at Ashton Gate.