Luke Wallace is more than happy filling the sizeable shoes left by Chris Robshaw, who is captaining England to what could be a first Six Nations Grand Slam for a decade.
But the Harlequins flanker admits he dreams of the day the two can star side-by-side as he bids to make an impression on Conor O’Shea in the absence of his back-row partner.
Wallace had to bide his time for his Quins Aviva Premiership bow this season, first appearing in round eight’s 28-25 victory over Gloucester.
But, with Robshaw currently on England duty, the 22-year-old has found a way into the Quins starting XV far easier, starting their past three Premiership games.
And while Wallace admitted he is happy to bide his time and learn his trade from one of the best players in English rugby, it does not mean he is not thinking about the future.
He said: “Last year was a big confidence boost for me, coming into the team and getting nominated for the Aviva Premiership young player of the year and the LV= breakthrough player award.
“I know that with guys like Chris Robshaw around I would have to wait to get some game time this season and I just targeted these times when he is away and I have been pleased with how I have done.
“But Chris is great to have around the club. He keeps himself to himself, but he is a really good role model for guys like me.
“He is always working hard, whether it be nutritionally, in the gym or out on the training pitch and, while it is hard to get game time while he is around, he is a great guy for me to look up to.
“Hopefully, in the future, I won’t have to wait for these times and we can be playing together in the Quins back row – that is the aim.”
Wallace’s last appearance for Quins in the Premiership saw them overcome a stubborn Sale Sharks side 30-21 at Salford City Stadium.
Much was said about Sale’s fightback, but Wallace insisted Quins were looking to get what could prove to be a crucial bonus point with a fourth try.
He said: “We were trying really hard to get that fourth try because we know how important every point is until the end of the season.”
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