Rugby Union: Jack’s the lad for coach Blackett

Titans Jack Preece has been in top form this season. Pic: Steve Ellis.
Titans Jack Preece has been in top form this season. Pic: Steve Ellis.
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Rotherham’s coach, Lee Blackett,rarely picks out individual players for praise, but more often than not when he does, the name of Jack Preece comes top of the list.

The Gloucestershire born flanker, in his first season at Rotherham, has been quick to make an impact and is a constant menace to opposing forwards as he pinches ball allowing the Titans to launch another attack or enabling their line to survive.

The fact that the 24-year-old former England Sevens’ star-Preece made 13 appearances in 2012 before a serious leg injury stopped him playing for 12 months-is such an active player again shows the extent of his ambition and commitment. Growing up in the rugby-daft city of Gloucester and in a keen rugby family, Preece had no option but to play.

“We lived five minutes from Kingsholm, Gloucesters’s ground and I had a season ticket. I played my first league game aged 18 when I was on trial in 2007 at Birmingham-Solihull.

“And guess who my first game was against in National One? You won’t believe this, but it was Rotherham and I scored a try in the first ten minutes and I still think I’m the youngest try scorer in the league below the Premiership.

“Since I’ve been at Rotherham, I’ve noticed that everyone in the squad has the right attitude and everyone wants to put the effort in. We are over the moon to be second in the Championship because no one expects us to be there, but we have a really good side here. Now we’ll be really disappointed if we don’t make the play-offs by finishing in the top four.

“My job is turning the ball over. I reckon I won eight turn-overs against Bedford on Boxing Day and seven against them in the British and Irish Cup. Looking back, the most physical game was Cornish Pirates last weekend, but when it comes to scrums and line-outs, I think London Welsh are the hardest we’ve faced so far.”

Weighing 14 stone and five foot ten inches tall, Preece is precisely the type of high quality player Rotherham attracts, develops and then loses to Premiership clubs or provincial teams in Wales and Ireland.

But Preece gives this assurance: “I want to do the best I can for Rotherham and play as high as I can, but I’m not worrying about next season or the Premiership.”

“We are concentrating on winning the next match and I am concentrating on turn-over ball.”