Harlequins’ Louis Lynagh has labelled his call-up to train with England less than a year after making his first Premiership start as surreal.
But though it may have been strange for the 20-year-old full-back, few who had been following his progress would have felt surprised.
Since scoring his first try against Wasps at the end of January, both himself and the Twickenham-based club have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of English rugby, and it was his crucial brace of tries that earned victory in the 2021 Gallagher Premiership Final against Exeter Chiefs.
Lynagh said: “I was actually asleep when I got the call. I woke up at 9am and saw that I had two missed calls and that I’d got a message from Eddie Jones. I thought ‘I can’t miss this!’ so I called him straight back and we had a really good chat. It was a pretty surreal feeling.
“Scoring in the final was a moment I’d dreamt about, and I’m not just saying that. My dad hated that I pointed to the crowd when I scored the first try, but whatever came into my head I just did. The second try was when it sunk in on the pitch that ‘we’ve done this’.
“When that final whistle blew I was just looking for people to hug, it was absolute mayhem. Even though there were only 10,000 people there it was so loud.
“When I came home after the celebrations straight after the final, I was sat in bed watching replays of the game and I was tearing up.”
Lynagh has since kicked on into the new campaign, as a brilliant finish against Worcester last time out gave the Italian-born winger a seventh try in his last five Premiership games.
What makes the son of Australian legend Michael Lynagh’s recent run even more extraordinary are the two big gaps in his rise, which could have halted, or at the very least stalled, the careers of many.
From his 2019 debut, against Friday’s opponents Bristol Bears, Lynagh had to wait a full 380 days before his next game, appearing in the very first and last match of the extraordinarily long coronavirus-affected season of 2019/20.
The second gap was caused by a persistent and frustrating injury which left him on the side-lines for three months after signing a new contract in March, following his first consistent run of games in the team.
Lynagh explained: “Covid happened and after I came back from that, that’s where I went from plateauing to skyrocketing in my ability.
“I worked a lot during that period training, doing speedwork and kicking and it really showed.
“But then I had an issue with my groin and hips. I had to sort out a lot of my mechanics on how I ran and improve my core strength.
“It had been building up for quite a while and when I took that jump and had that stretch of six or seven games, that demand for your body goes through the roof.
“I owe a lot to the coaches. They recognised how hard I’d been working and to be called upon and trusted with the responsibility of playing in Quins’ first play-offs since 2014 was special.
“I can’t thank them enough.”
That responsibility was put sharply into focus against the Bears in last season’s Premiership semi-final.
Lynagh duly delivered, scoring one of Quins’ seven tries as they stormed back from 28-0 down to win 43-36 after extra-time.
But despite that game and contrasting starts to this season, with Quins six points ahead of Bristol with a game in hand, Lynagh is wary of the threat the Bears possess.
He added: “Though Bristol have had an iffy start, they’re a team with such quality and a very good style of play and they will start clicking.
“We’ve got to be prepared for what they’ll throw at us because they’ll come here wanting revenge.”
Lynagh and his team will be hoping to continue their fine start though, as he aims to turn training sessions into caps ahead of England’s Internationals this November.
He added: “Everything starts here. If I don’t play well here then there’s no point even thinking about international ambitions.
“But if I keep playing well for Quins there’s no reason why I couldn’t play in the autumn. I’m just really excited for what lies ahead.”
Harlequins play Bristol Bears at this Friday at the Twickenham Stoop. The game is sold out, but coverage starts from 7:00pm on BT Sport.
Featured Image credit: JMP