• Gloucester have signed National League star Jake Polledri
  • The 21-year-old has had a sensational year for Hartpury College
  • Polledri has been called in to the England Counties squad to face Ireland

Just two years ago Jake Polledri was paying for a flight to Italy in an attempt to kick-start his rugby career by trying to break into the country’s U20 team.

Two years later and the 21-year-old back row has signed a three year contract with Gloucester having established himself as one of rugby’s rising stars.

It has been an unlikely few years, admits Jake, son of former Bristol forward Peter Polledri.

“When I left school nothing came of anything in terms of progressing in rugby,” says Jake.

“We knew a coach who was involved with Italy so because I was qualified through my dad I decided to head out there and see if I could make it..”

It was a wise move. Polledri was quickly selected for the Six Nations and then the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2015, hosted in Italy.

“That was an incredible experience and the first time I had been involved in a professional set up. It made me believe I could go further.”

Gloucester come calling

On his return, Polledri began playing for National Three side Dings Crusaders while also making a few appearances for Bristol in the A League.

“I had some meetings with Andy Robinson at Bristol but it didn’t materialise and when I saw Hartpury College I was blown away by how impressive it was.”

Polledri joined the Gloucestershire National One side in 2015 and in that time has become one of the league’s standout players.

“I think the key for me has been playing regularly. This is my second season and I’ve only missed one game in that time. They saw potential in me and I’ve loved playing rugby here.”

Polledri has been a key part of Hartpury’s incredible run of form, they remain unbeaten and are set to be playing their rugby in the Championship next season.

However it won’t be the Championsip where Polledri is plying his trade having caught the eye of Gloucester’s coaches.

“Gloucester are based right next to Hartpury so all they have to do is look out the window to see us and I think David Humphreys had been keeping an eye on me.”

England Counties debut

Polledri will join up with Gloucester this summer for pre-season but before then he has another milestone in his sporting CV to tick off having been called in to the England Counties squad to face Ireland Clubs on Friday, 17 March.

“It is a massive honour for me to be part of it and I can’t wait to play. I spoke to a couple of guys who had represented the side and they couldn’t speak highly enough about their experience.

“I can’t wait to be involved and playing in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day will be particularly enjoyable. To pull on the white shirt will be a huge moment for me and my family.”

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