PLYMOUTH Albion’s Royal Navy flanker Jarrad Hayler got the chance to play against European champions Saracens on Thursday night and has been handed the opportunity to train with them this summer.
Hayler started for the UK Armed Forces side against the Premiership giants at the Honourable Artillery Company in Central London.
Saracens won 52-10, but Hayler felt the joint forces team, which used to be known as the Combined Services, could be proud of their performance.
“We came together the day before and we only had a two-hour training session on Wednesday,” said Hayler. “We had very, very good players but it was a very scratch team.
“But, to be fair, we put in a very good performance. The score did not really reflect the way the lads played.”
He added: “It was an absolutely beautiful pitch and you couldn’t really ask for better opposition. It was a great occasion.”
Hayler, who only turned 21 in March, is looking forward to the chance of getting to rub shoulders with Saracens’ stars in the summer.
He is set to be joined at Saracens in pre-season by another member of Albion’s 2015/16 pack – Bedford-bound prop Christian Judge.
“I have got a four-week training period with Saracens starting in July,” he said. “It is just for a bit of development.
“I am just going there for four weeks to see what it is like and also show them what I can do.
“I am mega looking forward to that. You could not ask for a better opportunity.
“I was happy with my game against Sarries, even though we lost by quite a lot.”
Hayler, who made 11 appearances for Albion last season, has enjoyed a dream few weeks, including helping the Navy earn a 29-29 draw with the Army in front of a packed Twickenham to secure the Inter-Service title.
“Winning the Inter-Service title was absolutely unbelievable and then I won the Proud Heritage Exciting Future Trophy and captained the Navy sevens team to two plate wins, so I’m really happy with that,” said Hayler. “It is going really well at the moment.”
Hayler only earned his first cap for the Navy as a replacement last May against the Army.
“It has been crazy year and it has gone so quick as well,” he said.
Hayler’s appearances for Albion last season were hampered by his Navy commitments.
He admits he does not know what he will be doing in terms of club rugby next term.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I need to sort out what I am doing at work first.
“I would love to go back to Albion, but I just don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Albion, as expected, have been granted permission to continue in National One next season, providing the new owners pay a bond of £147,000 to the RFU and pay their rugby creditors by a certain date.
The RFU agreed to ratify the takeover of Albion by Dave Venables and Bruce Priday providing they meet the conditions, which the new owners were aware of before taking control at Brickfields.
The bond was only required because Albion went into administration.