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Getting to Know: England U20s lock Junior Kpoku

Junior Kpoku celebrates an England U20s try against Ireland in March (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

One of the highlights so far in Embedded, the RugbyPass TV behind-the-scenes series on the England team at the World Rugby U20 Championship, has been Junior Kpoku taking a call in a Cape Town barber shop from Siya Kolisi, the doble-winning Springboks Rugby World Cup captain.

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Kpoku was given a dice roll as an in-camp forfeit and rolling a six meant dying his hair or getting a buzz. The upside was that while in the chair at the barbers, Kolisi, his Racing 92 teammate, checked in on him.

The 18-year-old teenage giant joined the Parisians last autumn from Exeter Chiefs and aside from going on to make a Top 14 debut in February, he has also been busy keeping his hand in with the England age-grade set-up and is looking to add a Championship title in South Africa to the Six Nations glory that was clinched in March.

Mark Mapletoft’s side are currently two wins from two in Pool C and ahead of facing the Junior Boks in Athlone on Tuesday, Kpoku tackled the RugbyPass Getting to Know Q&A:

THE BASICS
Born: 10 September, 2005;
Joined England age-grade: Age 17 last year;
Club: Racing 92;
Position: Second row;
Height: 6ft 7;
Weight: 121kgs;
Boots: Adidas, don’t know what they are called;
Gumshield: The England rugby ones;
Headgear: No.
School: Finborough School.

RATE YOURSELF (out of 100)
Pace: 70;
Passing: 85;
Tackling: 90. 

THE PAST
My favourite England player of all time is… I like Maro (Itoje);

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Favourite try I have ever scored is… Last year U18, England against South Africa;

A rugby memory that makes me smile is… Signing my first professional contract at Exeter Chiefs;

The moment I realised I could make it is… Making my debut for Exeter against Bristol;

One piece of advice I would give to my younger self is… Work much harder;

My best subject in school was… PE;

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The first player who made me fall in love with rugby is… My brothers, both of them;

Growing up, my position was… Always lock;

The coach who has most impacted my game is… Dave Roberts, who invited me to London Skolars.

THE PRESENT
My best attributes on the field are… My energy, my tackling and my hunger;

One thing I’m doing to improve my education is… I’m going to start uni next year, doing sports science in Paris;

My favourite current England player is… Maro (Itoje);

My favourite YouTuber is… No, not really;

My hardest working teammate is… Ben Redshaw;

My most skilful teammate is… Henry Pollock;

My favourite training drill is… Race north, a little raining drill we do with Haydn (Thomas) where we set, then we fold around and just fly. It’s a straight run;

My favourite music artist is… Central Cee.

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THE FUTURE
A player who could go all the way is… Ben Redshaw;

If I could play with anyone, I would like to play with… That’s a hard one, a hard one. Owen Farrell in the England shirt;

I will be happy with my career if I… Start playing more first-team games next year;

If I could play in any other country, I would play in… Not really. Just France;

One thing I want to add to my game is… How many involvements I can get in a game, that could be in tackling, rucking, carrying, whatever.

One person I want to meet is… Michael B Jordan;

One trophy I would love to win is… The World Cup.

  • Click here to sign up to RugbyPass TV for free live coverage of matches from the 2024 World Rugby U20 Championship in countries that don’t have an exclusive local host broadcaster deal

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