Joel Kpoku was a rugby league player in his youth but since signing for the Saracens academy he’s been forging a path as a flourishing union player.
And while a fractured fifth metatarsal saw him miss seven months of the 2017/18 season, he returned to fitness in time to make his England U20 debut against the Junior Springboks in May 2018.
His debut marked a fine month for the young lock which also saw him nominated for the Aviva Community Player of the Season award for his off-field work.
On the back of strong displays in the Premiership A League, Joel starred in the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship.
One of two Saracens chosen in Steve Bates’ England U20 squad, he was ever-present at second row and a key part of the run to the final in France.
So impressive were his performances, Kpoku was named in England's pre-season training camp in August 2018.
Joel was educated at Ashmole Academy and started his rugby career as a league player with the London Skolars, with whom he won the Challenge Cup at U17 level against Brixton RLFC.
He then joined Saracens Amateurs before signing for the academy at U17 level and faced Bedford and Timisoras in the build-up to the 2017/18 season.
Joel has a twin brother, Jonathan, who has also signed with Saracens, while younger brother Junior is with the Saracens Amateurs and London Skolars.
Kpoku scored a try on his senior Saracens debut in October 2018, also appearing in the Premiership for the first time.
The biggest influence on his young career to date has been his father, Jose, who has supported him from the very start of his journey – driving his sons to training sessions and matches.
5 points - 1T
2018 SA, World Championship - A, It, S, SA, F
Last updated: 18 January 2019