YOUNG Royal Navy flanker Jarrad Hayler admits he could hardly have wished for a better start to his Plymouth Albion career.
The 20-year-old former Havant player has lined up in Albion’s number seven shirt for the club’s opening three National One games and scored his first try against Hull Ionians on Saturday.
“It has been a brilliant start to the season for me personally,” said Hayler, who had never played National League rugby before this month.
“I didn’t expect to start all the games, especially with the competition at seven. But I have worked as hard as I can in training and I have reaped the rewards. I’ve been very happy with that.”
Bickleigh-based Royal Marine Hayler was one of a host of young players that turned up at Albion in the summer to train with the club. He was joined by fellow Royal Marine Seti Raumakita, who made his Albion debut at Hull on Saturday.
Hayler certainly showed his speed and fitness to support Australian back Ethan Ford to score a breakaway try at Hull at the weekend.
“We work on a lot of speed and fitness and it is something I like to strive for,” said Hayler. “It just shows all the work I have been putting in has paid off.
“Hopefully, I will be able to get the ball in a bit more space in the future and show more what I can do.”
Saturday’s home game against Fylde might be Hayler’s last for at least a month, as he and Raumakita are wanted by the Royal Navy for the International Defence Rugby Competition – better known as the Defence World Cup.
The event, featuring 12 teams, starts on October 8 and runs through to October 29, with the semi-finals and finals held at the Twickenham Stoop. The Navy’s preparation camp for the tournament starts on Sunday.
Hayler said: “I am going to have to talk to the Navy. The navy camp starts on Sunday so this (the Fylde match) potentially could be my last game for about a month.
“But, hopefully, I might be able to chop and change between here and Portsmouth. We’ll just have to see about that.”
All the Navy’s group matches will be played in Portsmouth and Hayler is certainly looking forward to it, although disappointed he will be missing some Albion matches.
“The Defence World Cup is going to be brilliant for myself and the Navy lads,” he said. “It is something I have definitely been looking forward to. But leaving the Albion boys with how close we have got is not the greatest and I know I am going to have to work hard to get back that starting number seven shirt.
“However, as soon as I’m back I will get my head down and start working again. Whoever has got that shirt I will be going for it.”
Hayler, who only made his Royal Navy debut in May against the Army at Twickenham, hopes he will gain from the experience of playing in an international competition.
He is also hoping the Royal Navy can impress in the competition, which will see teams from New Zealand, Australian, France, South Africa, Fiji, Tonga, Canada, Georgia and Japan battle it out with the three main British services.
“We have got the Fijian Combined Service, the New Zealand Combined Service and the Japanese Combined Service in our group,” said Hayler. “It’s a tough pool, but we are hoping for a good Defence World Cup.”
He added: “There’s going to be different styles of play to get used to and I will have to get my head in the book to learn all the Navy calls again. It is going to be very physical playing against all those teams, who play very differently, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”