George Catchpole aims to make grade with Leicester Tigers

George Catchpole aims to follow in the footsteps of a string of international players as he starts his final year in the Leicester Tigers Academy.

The Tigers Academy has produced a succession of England players over the years, including current internationals Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Manu Tuilagi and Norfolk's Ben Youngs.

Catchpole, 18, of St Olaves near Great Yarmouth says the success of those players, and the many others who have graduated from the Academy to play for the Tigers first XV, is a huge incentive for him.

'You look at the likes of Ben and Tom Youngs, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi coming through the Tigers Academy and you know the opportunities are there to make the step up,' said the former Norwich School pupil.

'I can see that it might be a long journey but you have to get your head down, work hard and it can be done.

'Tigers are a great club, with great facilities and a great style of rugby. I love the environment and wouldn't want to be doing anything else.'

Catchpole began playing rugby in the U8's at North Walsham rugby club. He started out as a prop 'because I was quite tall' before moving to centre and, more recently, wing to take advantage of his pace. He represented the Tigers Development XV last season as the Tigers reserve team reached the semi-finals of the 'A' League competition, and now he is looking to kick on during his final Academy year.

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'I played quite a lot in the A League last year and I want to keep doing that but the main aim is to move into the senior squad,' said Catchpole, who combines his rugby training with A Level studies at Leicester Grammar School.

'I am quite good friends with a lot of the boys who have moved up to the next stage. I know it is difficult but with hard work it can be done.'