Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley is taking inspiration from “maverick” former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli as he attempts to break into the England team for the Six Nations championship.


While this may appear to be a strange choice for an aspiring young rugby player, Thorley’s passion for history was fired by one of his teachers and the eloquent wing sees parallels with Disraeli who was twice elected as Prime Minister. While Thorley has not expressed any wish to enter Parliament he is currently trying to win over head coach Eddie Jones at England’s training camp in Portugal.

So why Disraeli? “I think it is important to have interests beyond what is on the pitch and I had a wonderful teacher at school and I thought that Disraeli was this really quirky character,” explained Thorley who is one of three wings in the 34 strong England squad alongside Jonny May (Leicester) and Bath’s Anthony Watson. “There is something about him; he was a bit of a maverick, he was Jewish and worked his way to the top.”

Thorley took part in the first debrief following England’s loss to South Africa in the World Cup final in Japan and was enthused by the presentation made by Simon Amor, the England sevens head coach, who has taken over as Jones’s attack coach for the Six Nations. He said: “There are things that need to be addressed after the World Cup and that will happen this week but it does feel like a new start. The boys did a great job in Japan and we want to kick on and Eddie talked about teams who reach the final and finish as runners’ up and there is then a bit of a dip.

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“Simon addressed the squad and has a different way of thinking and it is great. Both the players are coaches are excited to see what he can bring and see how it goes.”

In the England camp they call him Thor, son of Odin, and he is relishing another chance to show what he can deliver: “ It is a wonderful place to be and very much a learning environment. You do want to get that first cap and then play well for England.”

Thorley revealed that the Saracens players in the squad have made it clear the club’s relegation for salary cap breaches has been parked and they are solely concentrating on England’s Six Nations challenge. Thorley, who voted Premiership Young Player of the Season by his peers, said: “The Saracens thing was touched on a little bit but the Sarries guys said they are here to play for England and that is all that matters. We know that when they are here they are England players.”


Thorley is backing fellow Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammmit to earn a first cap for Wales and said: “It is great for Gloucester to have two wings coming through and we are pushing each other and that is exciting.”

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