It has been an unusual route to the second row for Nick Isiekwe, a member of Saracens Academy, who played at prop, centre, No.8 and flanker before settling into his role at lock, the position in which he won his first England cap off the bench against Argentina in the first Test at San Juan last June. He started playing tag rugby aged six at Old Verulamians (OVs) at London Colney, near St Albans after his mum Ruth encouraged him to take up sport.
She said: “At the time his cousin began in tag rugby at OVs and I said it would be nice to get Nicholas into it. It escalated from there.” Now standing 6’6”, he has physically outgrown his original positions. When 13, he joined Old Albanian and then Saracens invited him for trials.
Nick has been there since then and impressed shrewd judges. He played for England U16 in the wins over Wales and Scotland in 2014 and a swift climb brought him three appearances in the 2015 Rugby Europe U18 Championship in France in March and April. He also played for England U17 against France the following year and shared in four of the U20s first five wins in the 2017 Six Nations.
After playing in only two Premiership games against Northampton Saints and Wasps in April and May this year, Nick excelled for the England XV against the Barbarians at Twickenham and crowned his debut appearance on the big stage with a try.
Educated at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire, he had previously attended Mandeville Primary School and Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School. He said: “When I play rugby, the high pace is truly thrilling. It gives me the chance to be physical and really let loose. I enjoy myself and that’s the main thing for me.
“My first mentor was Harry Harrison at Albanians and now Jim Hamilton and Maro Itoje at Saracens help my understanding of the game. I want to reach my full potential and beyond rugby, I’d love to get into property development and property buying and selling. That would be great.”
Born in Hemel Hempstead, he has captained Hertfordshire U16 and Saracens U17, has been involved in athletics and represented his native county in the discus. The players he most admires are clubmate Maro Itoje, Martin Johnson, Eben Etzebeth and Brian Habana.
2017 Arg (1R), Sam(R)
2017 F(R), W, It, I
2015 Europe: P(R), F, It; SA Tour: F, SA ‘A’, SA
Last updated: 26 November 2017