Back from injury for big breakthrough, Stooke is 'ready to go'
ELLIOTT Stooke knows it is time to vindicate Nigel Davies' backing – but not overnight.
The bruising lock boasts a heady mix of power, pace and youth.
Not 20 until next week, the former Stow-on-the-Wold junior second-row is the latest man to roll off Gloucester's talent production line.
Stooke has come through Hartpury RFC, and helped England win their first Junior World Championship title in the summer.
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A dislocated elbow ruled him out of the final, but after finding fitness again, he has now been earmarked for his big Gloucester breakthrough.
Rugby director Davies wants Stooke to push into regular first-team action this term, and has named him on the bench for today's Kingsholm season opener against Sale (3pm).
Excited to be trusted for Premiership action, Stooke explained: "It's great to be back from the injury, and then to be given chances against Munster and Plymouth in pre-season.
"I'd like to think I've taken those opportunities well.
"So for the coaches to be saying things like that about me now, it's a great feeling.
"I've worked hard over the pre-season, I feel heavier in the right way, I feel fresh and ready to go – whether that's with Hartpury or with Gloucester.
"The academy boys thrive off opportunities like that.
"So we're grateful to Nigel and the coaching staff for giving us those chances.
"James Hudson's come in and he's a real lineout master, and then Alex Brown's still here and you're always picking their brains.
"Will James and Lua Lokotui, I find myself picking things up from them all the time.
"It's great to have those guys around, hopefully we can tap into that experience to help us young guys improve."
Stooke is visibly fitter and faster compared to last season, but the ambitious youngster knows now is not the time to dwell on his progress.
He continued: "The speed of the game, the physicality, hopefully I've got quite a good game understanding, but at Premiership and LV=Cup level, things will step right up.
"It's a long process, especially at our age, so you've just got to keep your head down and keep going.
"And that's exactly what us academy boys know we've got to do.
"It's great to have people like Sav who have done that, come through the system.
"It's great to see him captain the side now, because he's come from a similar role that we're coming down."
Proud of his part in England Under-20s world triumph this summer, he added: "Age-group rugby's done for me now, which is a bit weird, but you've got to get on with it.
"Hopefully I can push on with the senior set-up now though.
"It's a great achievement, I was tremendously gutted about missing out on the final because of the old arm.
"But playing against the likes of New Zealand and South Africa, it's something I'll never ever forget.
"Now it's time to take all that forward though, and I can't wait to get stuck in."