Raffi Quirke is 21 years old and going on 35. He is a young player who already thinks and behaves like a senior professional, even as a manager. His research mission to Australia will become a model for others to copy.
Sale’s rookie scrum-half returned straight to the England squad after six months out with a hamstring injury.
But Quirke wasn’t content just to go through the painstaking rehab process, he also wanted to seize a rare opportunity to expand his horizons, so he arranged a solo trip Down Under to learn from some of the best teams and players in the game. the world rugby league. .
Raffi Quirke (pictured) scored on his England debut against South Africa last season
Quirke has been out with injury this season and went to Australia on a research mission.
Before telling Sportsmail about his pioneering company, there was a glimpse of what he brought home.
After finishing a training session with his club, Quirke sat courtside at AJ Bell Stadium, alone, for five minutes of quiet contemplation. Visualization is now part of his personal routine.
When he was ready to speak, he said: ‘I want to have an experienced head on young shoulders.’
Well, Quirke is certainly on the right track on that.
Explaining how it happened, he said: ‘Sale’s coaches said: “You’re going to be away for a long time, so you should go and experience a different environment.
‘Interestingly, the day before, I had had the exact same conversation with my dad at home. The coaches asked me if I had any ideas and I love watching the NRL (Australian rugby league) so I said that.
Sale’s scrum-half spent time Down Under following NRL sides like the Sydney Roosters
He hopes to use the knowledge he has gained from these clubs to become a better player.
‘They weren’t sure if he could do that, because it’s on the other side of the world. I said I would organize it, if they told me I could do it. I just needed them to say, “Yes.”
So I organized it with the help of Anthony Seibold, the England defense coach, who has coached in the NRL.
“He gave me some contacts and arranged the days that I would be training. I was only there for three weeks.
‘I went to Cronulla Sharks, Newcastle Knights, St George Illawarra Dragons, Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters.
“I went to all those clubs for one day, on their main training days, then I was at the Roosters for a week and a half.
Quirke had surgery to fix a torn hamstring and missed last season’s back end
“I did some of my rehab at local gyms and also at the Roosters facility, with their physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches.
“I would arrive at the beginning of the day, I would see every meeting, I would watch them train and I would take notes.
“It was just about seeing what I could add to my game and what I could bring to add to Sale. That was my plan and I got a lot of little gold nuggets.’
Quirke was able to rub shoulders with the greats of the 13-man code and took every opportunity to seek advice.
The host clubs, players and coaches were happy to help their English guest.
He has now returned to England’s setup for the Autumn Nations after a six-month absence.
Quirke spoke with Roosters legend Cooper Cronk (pictured) about dealing with pressure
“The greatest players of all time there, the ‘Immortals’ as they are called, still work with clubs on certain days,” he said. ‘So Cooper Cronk was with the Roosters and I was able to sit down with him and talk about how to deal with the pressure. He told me about his preparation during the week.
That’s what I wanted to see. How their best players analyze other teams, talk to their coaches, and what they do on any given day of the week, per extras. Now that I’m back, I try to go through some of the same processes.
“The head coaches introduced me to people at the clubs. If I was with certain coaches or players, I would ask them questions.
‘After the sessions when the boys were doing extras, I would invite them over for a chat. When I was on the Roosters, I went to dinner with some of the guys and one of them invited me to have dinner with him and his wife and his kids.
“Everyone was so welcoming and I really felt a part of each team when I was there. I thought they’d get the *** out of a Pom by going there, but they treated me real good. It was incredible.’
The young scrum-half said that everyone Down Under made him feel very welcome.
There was some downtime Down Under, but Quirke was unable to surf at Bondi Beach for fear of aggravating his hamstring while it healed.
However, he has discovered a new water activity closer to home, having joined Sale’s new signing, Tom O’Flaherty, spearfishing in North Wales. ‘I haven’t caught anything yet,’ he admitted.
Quirke returned to action for Sale earlier this month and was recalled by England head coach Eddie Jones after two successful appearances for his club.
He is vying for a role in the matchday 23 match against Argentina on Sunday and, further down the road, has a chance to establish himself as the country’s leading scrum-half.
He is available now and could feature in England’s game against Argentina on Saturday.
Last November, his searing try against South Africa sealed England’s victory against the world champions and Quirke has used that early peak of his career as inspiration ever since.
“I see him before every game,” he said. ‘I have little highlight clips that I watch, for my confidence.
‘That’s where I want to be; playing for England. That’s where I was and that’s where I want to be again.’
65,000 in attendance as Japan scares the All Blacks
Rugby needs good news and there was some in Tokyo on Saturday as a crowd of 65,000 turned out to watch Japan scare off the All Blacks before falling 38-31.
It was a larger attendance than any in the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship and reaffirmed the potential for expansion in the Far East.
The Brave Blossoms have shown they can make life difficult for England and France in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, New Zealand have lost skipper Sam Cane and Dane Coles to injuries, and veteran Brodie Retallick could miss the remaining Autumn Tests after being sent off for a reckless ruck clearing, but Ian Foster still has more than enough pedigree to prevent a Welsh ambush at Cardiff on Saturday.
Japan came close to beating New Zealand at the weekend narrowly losing to the All Blacks 38-31
Former players planning the purchase of Wasps
How encouraging to hear from Wasps admins that a purchase has been provisionally approved, by a group that includes several former players.
There was more good news yesterday from Worcester, whose managers have entered into a preferred bidder agreement with a consortium led by Jim O’Toole.
Of course, there are strict processes before any agreement is signed, but there is renewed hope. Imagine Wasps and Warriors in the Championship next season.
Concussion protocols delay Courtney Lawes’ return
Courtney Lawes is struggling to complete her recovery from a head injury and will almost certainly be absent when the England squad reconvenes today. It is worrying that Lawes has not recovered after five weeks out.
“He still has symptoms and we can’t move beyond that point until he is well,” said Phil Dowson, Northampton’s director of rugby. England shouldn’t try to rush Lawes back.
In his absence, this column would welcome a shift in third-row selection policy away from the lineout focus, to unleash Tom Curry and Jack Willis as the starting flankers, though Lewis Ludlam is also a contender if he returns to the lineouts. training.
There will be a change of captaincy and if it’s Curry, he’ll take responsibility, but it would be intriguing to see if Ellis Genge is up to the task.
Courtney Lawes (pictured) is expected to miss some of the Fall Nations due to a concussion