Thursday 14 February 2019 10:20 pm

Frankenstein’s flanker: England’s Tom Curry has taken on aspects of all his idols but is keeping grounded after successful Six Nations start

Sport and Business Reporter at City AM. Email:

Sport and Business Reporter at City AM. Email:

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Tom Curry is quickly establishing himself as Eddie Jones's go-to man at openside flanker after an impressive start to the Six Nations.

He may be only 20 years old but his ability and tireless work ethic has seen him improve England's performance at the breakdown markedly – even if he is modest about it.

In last week's trouncing of France, Curry made 22 successful tackles – more than anyone else on the pitch – and, for his efforts, had to leave the field during the second half with blood pouring from his head.

His dogged attitude and commitment to improving has seen him ascend through the ranks and he continues to watch and learn from a range of other flankers around the world.

“I'm not a fan of focusing on one person, but there's David Pocock, Francois Louw is obviously up there, George Smith's been a big one – just looking at everyone's individual games, taking different parts and forming this almost Frankenstein thing,” Curry, still sporting six stitches across his forehead, said on Thursday.

The Sale Sharks flanker is young enough to idolise players still in the game and called it a “brilliant experience even having a 5-10 minute conversation” recently with Australia great Smith, now at Bristol.

Keeping grounded

The impact Curry and fellow back-row Mark Wilson have had on the team has been notable, even if it has tended to go under the radar amid England's flair in the backs and the ball-carrying of the Vunipolas.

Together the pair have improved England's ability to retain possession and prevent turnovers – something that Jones has had them working particularly hard at.

Despite his positive impact, Curry is quick to play down his role, insisting it has been a squad effort.

“The attacking breakdown has been a huge topic in our meetings,” Curry said. “At international level the breakdown is huge, in terms of the tempo, how you want to play, being able to retain possession.

“We have to secure ours first and foremost, and that's not a concentration of the back-row, that's everyone from one to 15. We're always thinking about it from everyone's perspective.”

England have spent their fallow week enjoying a change of scenery by staying in central London instead of their usual camp in Surrey.

Preparations for a Grand Slam eliminator will begin on Sunday evening and Curry, who will face Wales at senior level for the first time next weekend, is under no illusion about the atmosphere Cardiff will provide.

“We've spoken about the passion and energy they will bring, probably not just for the first 10, 20 minutes but for the whole game – it's a huge cultural thing for them,” Curry adds. “But as a rugby player you want to test yourself in these environments and against these teams.”