Sevens: Rob Thirlby tips speedster Steph Reynolds to have big future
PACE ace Steph Reynolds can beat defenders and stay at devastating top speed – just like arch finisher James Simpson-Daniel.
That's the view of Gloucester's sevens coach Rob Thirlby, who has tipped Newport-born Reynolds for a bright future with the Cherry and Whites.
The 19-year-old is rocketing through the Kingsholm ranks, just 18 months after first interesting Gloucester's coaching staff.
Hartpury College student and Gloucester academy wing Reynolds is currently clocked as Kingsholm's second-quickest man, behind Charlie Sharples.
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Reynolds has powered to Kingsholm prominence so quickly that he has usurped impish finisher Ian Clark, who has signed for National League One side Coventry.
After impressing in Gloucester's victorious JP Morgan Premiership Sevens run, now Reynolds will sink his teeth into the weekend's inaugural World Club Sevens competition.
Gloucester will take on Moscow Region, New York and Western Province in group action today, before Sunday's knockout phase.
Club analyst Rob Thirlby and full-back Olly Morgan will team up again as short-format coaches.
Thirlby is confident that Reynolds can take another step towards first-team action.
Jonny May sustained a dislocated elbow and Shane Monahan a dislocated shoulder in Gloucester's 42-17 defeat by Toulon last Friday.
Thirlby sees no reason why Reynolds cannot deputise in Premiership action when the season gets into swing next month.
The former England Sevens man explained: "I think it's starting to happen now for Steph, that he's starting to believe in himself.
"He had a fantastic JP Morgan tournament, he's only been on the scene for us for about 18 months really.
"He's quick, he steps, and he reminds me of a young James Simpson-Daniel without pinning too much on him.
"He's got that same sort of ability to run at defenders and step them without losing speed.
"And he's only going to get quicker and get better as he gets bigger and stronger, and he's got a great future ahead of him. Nigel Davies is coming down to watch this weekend, he's heard some hugely positive reviews of Steph, and he's got it all on video too.
"What an opportunity to showcase what he can do again.
"We've got injuries on the wing now, so he may get some opportunities sooner rather than later, and perhaps sooner than he thought, so that's great for Steph.
"There's always room for smaller wingers in the game, of course there is.
"Shane Williams made a living on it, James Simpson-Daniel makes a living on it, as long as they tackle well and bring people down, the attacking game takes care of itself because they've got real flair and real ability.
"And I'm sure Steph will show us that again at the weekend.
"There's no substitute for speed.
"The only person quicker in the squad right now is Charlie, and I can imagine Charlie is one of the quickest in the league.
"Steph's got a lot of years to develop yet, given he's still in his teens, so he's only going to get quicker, stronger and better.
"He also needs to keep his feet on the ground, but if he carries on improving the way he has done over the last 12 months then the future should look very bright for him.
"He's only been in the front of our thoughts for the last 18 months really, he just came to Hartpury as a young student.
"And that just shows again how the link between Gloucester and Hartpury works.
"We're trying to develop his natural ability and turn him into a fine rugby player, and he's doing very well with it."
Another to impress in JP Morgan Premiership Sevens action was Fijian flier Andy Bulumakau.
The 21-year-old has now completed his studies at Hartpury College, and is expected to leave Forest of Dean club Drybrook RFC.
National Two South outfit Stourbridge are tracking the powerful three-quarter and Gloucester are also interested in adding him to their ranks.
Thirlby admitted sevens coach Morgan had a fairly forthright, albeit quiet, word in the ear of new academy boss Pete Buxton.
Thirlby added: "Andy impressed a lot, and I think Olly Morgan's already sent some feedback to Pete Buxton in his first week of his new job.
"Again it's local clubs and local links working well.
"He's got a natural flair for sevens, he's got some skills, and I think we'll be watching him very closely over the next weekend and over the next six months I would have thought."
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (capt), A Satala, D Robson, A Qera, A Bulumakau, M Cox, N Codlin, G Evans, R McAtee, S Reynolds, D Cheshire.