PANGBOURNE College student Alex Zenda will tour Canada in April after being named in the England Lambs under-18 rugby squad.
The 18-year-old prop from Thatcham is included in the 38-strong touring party after impressing in trials at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire.
The England Lambs offer top prospects at independent schools – outside Premiership Rugby Academies - a chance to play representative rugby and to shine in an international shop window.
College first XV coach Mr Charlie Sutton said: “It is a massive achievement for Alex to make the Lambs’ National Squad. He is a talented boy, dedicated and he always wants to improve his game. He deserves his selection.”
The teenage forward said: “I was really excited when I received the email from England Lambs. Past Lambs players have gone on and done so well in rugby. This is a great opportunity for me to do bigger things in the game.”
“My dad told me beforehand, ‘Alex, you always get nervous at trials like this. Treat it like a normal game’. All the pressure lifted from me and I was able to perform.”
The Lambs selection comes after the upper sixth student missed almost all of last season with a serious shoulder injury. “After missing the whole of last season, I was hungry for rugby and hungry to reach a higher level,” he said.
“Whilst I was rehabbing, I just had to take every day as it came and focus on the next target, because there are so many setbacks. You just have to have faith and say, ‘Okay, there will come a time when I can get back training and I can get stronger and faster’.
“The first XV coaches at the College, Mr Metcalfe and Mr Sutton, were pivotal to my comeback. They constantly encouraged me and gave me feedback to help me tweak my game and reach that next level.”
The Lambs will play six warm-up matches from January 22-March 6 before flying out to Canada on March 30 and kicking off their programme against Caplilano in Vancouver, British Columbia on April 1.
Next up is a trip to the USA and Seattle in Washington state to tackle Pacific Loggers on 3 April, followed by a a match with a British Columbia Select XV back in Vancouver on April 6. Lambs cap the tour by taking on Canada under-18s on April 9.
Three fellow Upper Sixth college students, Matthew Atkins, Louis Ellis and Oliver Jones, were also invited to attend the Wisbech trials but narrowly failed to be selected.