Given the enthusiasm new Moseley back-row Drew Harper has demonstrated in his first few appearances in Red and Black it is somewhat surprising to hear his early days in the sport were rather reluctant ones.
The 25-year-old has been one of the main bright spots in Moseley last two matches, defeats at Leeds – where he made his Championship debut – and last Saturday to Rotherham.
On both occasions he was introduced as a second-half substitute and on both occasions the No. 8 performed with an energy and determination born of a man intent on making up for lost time.
Indeed Harper’s hunger has not escaped the attention of coaches Kevin Maggs and Craig West, who can’t but compare the dual registered Bromsgrove forward’s attitude to that of his more permanent counterparts’.
Whether he becomes a permanent fixture at Billesley Common is up for discussion but what is clear are the impressive strides Harper has made since his early days as a shrinking youngster at rugby-mad Bromsgrove School.
“I played fourth team mostly and didn’t like it,” the protective clothing salesman reveals. “I used to stand out on the wing because I didn’t want to be there.
“I was about 11 or 12 and the lads there had been brought up on it whereas I had come from a little village school where you played football. I just carried on playing football and was not really interested in getting my head kicked in on a Saturday afternoon.”
To be fair the kicks would have been pretty effective too. Harlequins second row George Robson was in Harper’s year and England internationals Ben Foden and Matt Mullan were also around.
Bizarrely Harper only started playing for kicks when he moved schools and eventually found himself at Finstall Park where he has become an established part of an upwardly mobile side.
He has also played for North Midlands and was referred to Maggs in the summer only for work commitments to get in the way of Moseley’s training demands.
However, the A team game against Coventry and subsequent British & Irish Cup matches offered Harper a platform to earn a start in the midweek clash with Bristol at the Memorial Stadium.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “Having played in front of crowds of 200-300 down at Bromsgrove to appearing in front of 2,000 people was amazing.
“When we turned up at Bristol I wasn’t really expecting what was there, you see all the food stands, the stewards, everybody paying to get through the gate.
“I would love to go full-time but you don’t get many people coming in from the lower leagues, the majority of lads here have been at academies from a young age.”