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The silver lining Jack van Poortvliet grasped from World Cup tears

By PA
Jack van Poortvliet embraces George Ford in the England changing room in Lille (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The last experience of an England camp that Jack van Poortvliet had was being driven out in tears by his mum knowing his Rugby World Cup was over before it had begun.

Destined to travel to France as first-choice scrum-half, van Poortvliet instead suffered an ankle injury in a warm-up game against Wales. A few hours later he was on crutches saying goodbye to his teammates.

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His replacement Alex Mitchell went on to become the starting nine and has owned the jersey since, including for this year’s Guinness Six Nations which van Poortvliet missed because of a hamstring injury.

But the 23-year-old has emerged from a traumatic season to take part in this week’s England training camp with a place on the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand in his sights.

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“When I first came in here it felt weird because when I left, my mum was picking me up and I was leaving crying my eyes out,” he said. “The start of it was tough – missing the World Cup.

Fixture
Internationals
Japan
01:50
22 Jun 24
England
All Stats and Data

“The hamstring injury was another blow just before the Six Nations because that was the target I had set to get back for. Then you sort of crack on, get your head down, set yourself a lot of targets and it soon goes quite quickly.

“It was definitely tough in periods but I feel I’m a pretty well-rounded person after going through it. I have learned a lot about myself, my body, how I have got to manage it and look after it. It’s almost in theory made me more professional because I have got to look after myself.”

Van Poortvliet watched the bulk of England’s march to a third-place finish at the World Cup off the TV but he was able to attend the group victory over Samoa in Lille.

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“A few of my mates, who are also Freddie Steward’s mates, had an Airbnb for a few days, had a spare room, and invited me down. I said I’d love to go,” he explained.

“Steve (Borthwick) managed to sort my tickets and said to come into the changing room afterwards, so I got to see everyone and went back to the team hotel and had a catch-up. It was a good day – I definitely enjoyed myself out there.

“Steve gave me a bit of stick for how I was when I was watching the game – I was definitely quite loud in front of the coaches’ box which I didn’t realise! It was good fun, nice to reconnect with the squad and see them all doing well.

“Watching the games wasn’t easy because there was always this thought in the back of your mind that if this hadn’t happened then it could have been me.

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“There was also a realisation that stuff happens that you can’t control and you have to get on with it. It also gave me motivation, with the boys doing well. That spurred me on because, in the back of your mind, you want to get back there.”

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