Harlequins centre Charlie Walker’s feet have finally touched the ground in Hong Kong as he steps straight from the Under 20 Six Nations into the cauldron of the HSBC Sevens World Series with Ren Ryan's England.
The 19-year-old helped England beat Ireland 20-9 on Friday night to secure a second title in a row for Rob Hunter’s side, but his post-tournament celebrations were kept to minimum as he headed out from Heathrow to the Far East the following day.
Walker is likely to make his international Sevens debut at some point during the Cathay Pacific /HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, where Argentina, Kenya and Samoa are England’s Pool A rivals.
England lie fourth in the Series after five events, 18 points behind leaders New Zealand, and are looking to cut back that advantage this weekend before the global tour heads for the Tokyo Sevens next week.
“We got the win [against Ireland] and the goal we set out to do at the start of the season, which was to win the Six Nations so there was a great buzz, then on Saturday I was off to Hong Kong, so it was a pretty hectic weekend but it’s awesome to be here,” said Walker.
“Rob Hunter and Nick Walshe had pulled me aside one lunchtime and said ‘after Ireland you’ll be flying to Hong Kong to join the England Sevens boys’. I didn’t know what to say, particularly because it’s Hong Kong and it’s one of the biggest tournaments with one of the biggest followings.
An unreal place
“Definitely as a younger player looking to get better you’ve got to play in front of big crowds, that’s the way you’re going to get experience and with that comes confidence and learning how you improve yourself as a player, so for me it should be a great opportunity and something to relish.
“From what I’ve heard this is the big one, the one you want to go to. We’ve been into town and down to the markets to see what Hong Kong is about. It’s an unreal place and I’m really looking forward to it."
Walker, a 100m track finalist at the English Schools Athletics Association championships, has plenty of pace as well as the ability to make and take tries, touching down three times in the Six Nations campaign.
He has to familiarise himself with England’s systems inside a week, though, and teammates are helping him get to grips with the changes.
“It’s hard to get up to speed and coming into it you can tell the difference because they’re such a small squad and they’re a lot tighter and closer together,” he said.
“Luckily some of the moves and calls are the same as England Under 20s so that’s quite easy to pick up, but most of the guys have taken me through the moves to show me what I need to do in attack and defence, and how we’re going to play.”