Orlando Bailey in action for Bath. Pic: Getty Images.

Young England Star Orlando Bailey Admits: I Ask Rhys Priestland 10 Questions A Day!

The Six Nations U20 tournament continues on Friday with Wales taking on Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park. Before that, though, there will be an English player facing Scotland who hopes a big Welsh influence tips the balance in his favour. Orlando Bailey is the apprentice learning his trade at Bath from master craftsman Rhys Priestland, as he tells Tom Prosser.

England U20 star Orlando Bailey has revealed how Rhys Priestland is his guiding light who he bombards with “10 questions every day.”

The highly-rated England U20 full-back is at Bath, where he admits to picking the brains of the 50-cap Welsh international fly-half whenever he has the opportunity.

Bailey will be at Priestland’s new home ground – Cardiff Arms Park – on Friday for his country’s clash with Scotland in the second round of this season’s U20 Six Nations Championship, a match that is live on S4C Clic.

The pair both spent last season playing with Bath where the 19-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough year, making both his Gallagher Premiership and European debut.

Bailey is now hoping for success with England U20s – after being a key player in their comeback win over France last week – and is grateful for all the advice that 34-year-old Priestland has given him.

“I get on really well with Rhys, we kick together most days in training and always talk things through,” says Bailey.

“I’ll probably ask him 10 questions a day about stuff that he has learnt throughout his career and about the game in general.

“He is obviously leaving next season to join Cardiff, so I’ll miss him a lot.”

Driven teenager Bailey – who many pundits have tipped to be one of the next big things in English rugby – is not just taking tips from Priestland.

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He is also an admirer of many other notable players in the game, including another with a reputation as maverick No.10.

“Danny Cipriani, who has just joined Bath, has always been a player that I have moulded my game on a little bit,” adds Bailey.

“I wouldn’t say I fit into the category of one exact player, there’s lots who I look up to such as Dan Carter and current New Zealand fly-half Richie Mo’unga, who is awesome to watch at the moment.”

Bailey was proud to have scored a key try against France last week and says the 38-22 win has done a lot for team morale, especially since England trailed 19-3 at half-time before the Red Rose fightback.

“It was an amazing feeling to score. It happened very quickly, I didn’t think about it too much. But once I went through and got a little tap tackle, I was just thinking ‘I need to get over the line’ as the game was at a crucial point.

“I don’t think there is anything better than a comeback win. At half-time, the mood in the changing room was a bit down but we knew we had it in us to come back as we hadn’t shown our best rugby.”

The versatile back – who can play full-back, fly-half or centre – is also busy off the field as he is currently studying for a degree in international development and economics.

“I think it is really important to have another avenue to pursue,” he says.

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“I find when I get back from training – especially when I have made a mistake or something – I’ve got my studies to take my mind off it and it shows there is other stuff to get your teeth stuck into in life.”

Bailey also believes England’s currently pathway – that turns U20 stars into the full senior internationals of tomorrow – is fully functioning.

“We did a training session with the senior side last week and it was a huge eye-opener as to how fluid the pathway can be.

“I thought our boys competed really well with them so It just shows how close we are.

“I’m sure they watch these games as well, so with a few outstanding performances anything can happen.”

England U20s coach Alan Dickens is pleased that the age group Six Nations was postponed rather than cancelled and can’t stress enough about how important he feels the tournament is.

“I am just so pleased that the Six Nations got this tournament up and running,” says Dickens.

“I remember talking to Orlando back in January and he was concerned about when his next game was going to be. But then, luckily for him, he has done really well at his club and has got some game time there.”

Dickens is now turning his attention to prepare for Scotland, who lost their opening game, 38-7, to Ireland.

 

“We played them in some warm-up games in Newcastle a few weeks ago.

“They had a tight game against Ireland last week before the sending off, so they will be a different team come Friday.”

Scotland coach Sean Lineen – who played for Pontypool in the 1980s before winning caps for his country as a wing – is hoping his team can take inspiration from Zander Fagerson, who has gone from the Scotland U20s to the current British and Irish Lions squad.

“We have shown the boys some good luck messages from the likes of Zander Fagerson, who is now a Lion, and it is very inspiring for them to see how someone like Zander has progressed from the U20s set up,” says Lineen.

“What we are looking for at the moment is an improvement game by game.”

England will be hoping to take another step towards a possible title and Grand Slam, while the Scots will be keen to get off the mark with their first win.

S4C Clic – England U20 v Scotland U20 – 2.00pm.

Watch England U20 v Scotland U20, live on the S4C Clic Player, from 2.00pm on Friday. Also watch France v Italy (5pm, S4C Clic) and Wales v Ireland (8pm, S4C TV and S4C Clic). To access S4C Clic, visit www.s4c.cymru/clic/or download the S4C Clic app.

Match coverage on S4C Clic will have the option for Welsh or English commentary. Quick, free one-time registration required to use S4C Clic.

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