- He's been picked as part of the England’s Six Nations training squad
- Winning the LV= Breakthrough Player Award in 2014 has helped him get noticed
- He hopes to join previous Breakthrough Player Award winners Jack Nowell and Jonny May in winning his first England cap
Ollie Devoto first made himself known to the rugby community in 2013/14, when as a 20-year old Bath back he won the LV= Breakthrough Player Award for his outstanding performances in the LV= Cup that season.
Like fellow award-winners Jack Nowell and Jonny May before him, the recognition has helped propel Devoto into the limelight and soon his name was known by opposition fans, not just those who enjoyed watching him at the Rec. It is now also known by one Eddie Jones who, in less than two years from that award win, has named him in England's 2016 Six Nations training squad.
Devoto discusses how important the LV= Cup is to young players such as him. He says, "It's massive. For me, it was just about playing. The LV= Cup is a fantastic way for a lot of young people to get game time. Playing at a club like Bath, the competition for places is huge and the LV= Cup made sure I was getting enough game time to improve."
The Bath man's versatility at being able to cover several positions across the backline has seen him close in on a replacements spot on the bench against Scotland on Saturday afternoon as he bids to earn his first cap. He was not expecting the phone to ring however, "If I'm honest I was surprised at the call but having been here now I've really enjoyed it and I feel part of the team. Eddie said to me, "You're here because you deserve to be here." He's looking for that go-forward in midfield and someone who can ball play and that's something that I can do."
Devoto's ability to play fly-half, centre and full back is what makes him a perfect pick for a number 23 shirt but players prefer to be starting matches. His pursuit of this has seen him sign for Exeter Chiefs from next season. On his versatility, Devoto remarks, "I think I've seen the good and bad of it. I've certainly learned a lot developing things outside of playing on the weekend. I've worked hard in the gym and on other aspects that in the long term will hopefully help me improve.”
"I think at Bath I'm that perfect bench option because I'm able to play across those positions but I think the versatility is great for me going into the new England set up. I think it's helped me get to where I am, but in the long run I'd like to nail down a position and for me at the moment I'm most comfortable at 12."
With news last week that Manu Tuilagi's return is likely to be delayed by a further fortnight due to a hamstring strain, any hopes of him featuring in the last two rounds of the Six Nations seem to have faded. Devoto maintains a cool exterior when it is suggested this might open a door for him to show what he can do. He says, "At the moment I'm solely focused on surviving - I've been given this opportunity and the only thing I can do now is play myself out of the team. If I get through it'll be a great occasion this weekend."
While training down at Pennyhill Park, he has roomed with future Chiefs teammate Luke Cowan-Dickie and George Kruis. The Saracens lock was part of the side captained by Maro Itoje that won the LV= Cup in 2015 and he’ll be hoping to add to his ten caps in the Six Nations. For Devoto, it's a chance to earn his first at Murrayfield, "I think it's going to be incredible. I've played in big games. I've played at Twickenham against Saracens. If I do get selected, the first cap is always going to be a special one so I'm really looking forward to that."