Sierra Leone-born lock Shek Sherrif has his eyes on playing for Plymouth Albion’s first team after moving to the city to studying at the University of St Mark and St John.
The 20-year-old former Henley and Wasps Academy player made his debut for Albion’s development team on Monday night in their 10-10 draw with Cornwall.
Sherrif is a latecomer to rugby. He had not even heard of the sport until he moved to England as a teenager to join his father, who was serving in the British Army.
“I came to England seven years ago and started playing rugby about four years ago,” he said.
“I didn’t even know the game existed before I came here. It is all about playing football in Sierra Leone and that’s it.
“But I came over here and I started playing rugby and I loved it.
“I think I have come quite a long way in four years. I have had some really good people to help me out along the way.”
Sherrif, who stands at 6ft 5in and weighs in at more than 17 stone, has been training with Albion for a few weeks now and he is loving life at Brickfields.
“I am really enjoying my time here,” he said. “I don’t have a car to drive down to training, but all the boys chip in to give me a lift down, which is really nice. It is really enjoyable.”
Sherrif is gaining some league experience at National Three South West side Newton Abbot but he is hoping he can challenge for an Albion shirt soon.
“I don’t see why not,” he said. “I think I am capable of making the first team and I would definitely like to.
“I am going to be in Plymouth for three years so I’ve got a bit of time.”
He added: “I am studying sports development at the University of St Mark and St John. It’s a three-year course and I’m just starting my first year. I’m really enjoying it there so far. It is definitely the environment for me because of the sport.”
Albion are still without South African lock David Fisher. The 22-year-old had a scan on his injured knee on Tuesday and Albion are waiting for the results.
“He has improved a lot with the rehab, but it does not mean he can play,” said Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe. “We just have to wait for the scan results to come back.”
Albion are waiting to see if James Penman, Dan Collier and Elliot Bale will be fit for Saturday’s trip to Coventry.
Winger Robin Wedlake will definitely miss the game with an ankle injury, but Albion are hoping Penman, Collier and Bale can recover from injuries in time.
Hooker Penman has missed Albion’s last two games after suffering a head/neck injury against Rosslyn Park, while lock Collier was injured in a dangerous-looking tackle towards the end of last Saturday’s game against Fylde.
Fly-half Bale has been struggling with a leg injury, but he returned to training on Tuesday.