There is no greater feeling than watching a career manifest in front of your very own eyes. This article aims to shine an early spotlight on some relatively unknown players in the Gallagher Premiership. Will this season bring even more young talent to the forefront? We review below the names we know already and some new ones to look out for. The catch in this article, is that they are all born after the year 2000.
Future of the Gallagher Premiership and what it looks like
Every season of the Gallagher Premiership starts with a buzz of excitement. The anticipation of what team will make a charge for the European slots or will be battling at the basement is what keeps fans coming back. This time last year very few would’ve predicted how the league would’ve ended. Leicester Tigers were tipped to be battling at the bottom of the table, 24 rounds of rugby later they were in the top 4 and eventual winners of the overall competition. This, among many other things, is what makes the competition so special.
This season has another element of intrigue. Teams across the board have had to tighten the purse strings and cut players from their rosters to fit within new salary cap restrictions. There have been some big names leaving the league and surprise moves between teams. This also brings into focus each team’s conveyor belt of young talent. This is why we will now review the future of the Gallagher Premiership by looking at players born in the 2000s.
The well-known stars of the future
Last year saw the emergence of a large number of future stars. The likes of Freddie Steward, Tommy Freeman & Jack van Poortvliet were gracing the field wearing the red rose of England. Joined by fellow tourists such as Will Joseph and Henry Arundell. The latter burst onto the scene in a scintillating fashion.
There’s also a handful of established stars of the future already becoming regular names and staying in the league for the season ahead. The Welsh flyer Louis Rees-Zammit feels like he has been around forever, making his birth year of 2001 even scarier. Then there is Alfie Barbeary who has been threatening to burst onto the scene for a couple of years only to be held back by injuries.
Below, we have looked into the next crop of the future of Gallagher Premiership. These players are all also born in the 2000s. These names may not be known widely now. However, they will be gracing the pitches this year. Could this season see them joining the names above as becoming regulars and future stars?
Iwan Stephens – Newcastle Falcons – Winger – D.O.B 24/03/2002
A diminutive winger standing at 1.7m tall (5ft 6inches) Stephens is the latest flag bearer for the notion of rugby being the sport for all shapes and sizes no matter how big or small they may be. Originally a Rugby League player, he converted from Leeds Rhino’s to Newcastle Falcons in 2020 to join the senior academy.
After spells with England U20s and impressive performances in the league, Iwan was promoted to the Newcastle senior squad in the summer of 2022. He burst onto the scene in 2021 with a try-scoring debut against Harlequins, but due to injury had few chances to shine for the remainder of the campaign. Will 2022/2023 be the breakthrough season for Iwan Stephens?
Christ Tshiunza – Exeter Chiefs – Lock – D.O.B 09/01/2022
Some may argue that Christ Tshiunza had his breakout season last year. There was a tussle for which country Christ would represent. Eligible for England, Wales, Italy and his birth nation of DR Congo. Wales got their man and was awarded a first full cap in the Autumn International Series in October 2021. However, Tshiunza has only pulled on the Exeter shirt 6 times.
An imposing presence on the field who can cover lock and back-row is clearly full of potential. His ambitions are to make the Wales World Cup squad in 2023. It will be important for Christ to get significant game time in the Gallagher Premiership to show that he is ready to do just that.
Tom Litchfield – Northampton Saints – Centre – D.O.B 20/04/2002
Another promising young back coming from the productive Northampton Academy is Tom Litchfield. An England U-20 regular and a few substitute appearances towards the end of the 2021-2022 campaign for Litchfield gave a taste of what could be a more prominent role in the Northampton midfield.
With the likes of Rory Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall likely to get call-ups over the following season for their national teams and Matt Proctor frequently utilised on the wing. Litchfield may be utilised frequently from the bench from the start of the season. Will he shine like several young Saints backs in previous years?
Juan Martin Gonzalez Samso – London Irish – Flanker – D.O.B 14/11/2000
Already an international with his native Argentina team, and have caps under his belt against the likes of New Zealand and Australia. Samso joined London Irish in November 2021 and began to immediately make his presence felt in the team. His ability to make dominant tackles as well as breakthrough tackles himself marks him out as one to watch. London Irish has a vast wealth of young talent, Samso may be one that doesn’t get the headlines but does a lot of the hard work for the others to shine.
Fin Smith – Worcester Warriors – Fly Half – D.O.B 11/05/2002
Smith has been hotly tipped for a season or two. Earmarked as the next English fly half to make it to the International stage. He regularly wears the shirt for the U20 outfit and has already made his premiership debut for Worcester at the age of 18. Comparisons with Marcus Smith are inevitable due to Smith’s style of play and exciting range of passing.
The challenge for Fin Smith this year will be leapfrogging Owen Williams for the starting 10 jersey on a regular occasion. Joined at Worcester with other excellent young talents, Sixways may be the best place for Smith to keep developing. Hoping to challenge his namesake for the number 10 shirt for England for years to come.
Summary of the Future of the Gallagher Premiership
There are a lot of great players coming from the Gallagher Premiership with some of them also making differences for their national teams as well. Do you think we have missed some of the future of Gallagher Premiership? Are there more players born in the 2000s that we should be watching? Let us know what you think on social media like Twitter @LWOSRugby or Facebook LWOS Rugby Union.
Main Photo Credit:
Embed from Getty Images