Andrew Kitchener is tipped for England honours
Shropshire-born lock Andrew Kitchener has been tipped to become an England international by his boss as Worcester Warriors.
The 22-year-old will step up to the senior squad at Sixways at the end of this season after being handed his first senior contract.
Kitchener grew up up in Baschurch and went to Adams’ Grammar School in Newport and will play alongside older brother Graham, who is returning to Worcester next season from Leicester Tigers.
Kitchener has spent five years in the Warriors academy and already chalked up 31 appearances since making his debut in 2016.
And director of rugby Alan Solomons reckons the future is bright for Kitchener who came off the bench in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership win over Gloucester.
“Kitch is a fantastic young home-grown player,” Solomons said.
“He has had to overcome a few injuries this season, but in the last few games he has shown why he is so highly-rated.
“It’s a natural progression for him to move on to a senior contract where he will continue his development.
“I expect big things from him next season and have no doubt that in time he will play for England.”
The second row was a member of England’s World Rugby Under-20s Championship-winning squad in 2016 and has been combining his rugby commitments with studying at Birmingham University.
Kitchener is the latest player to graduate from the club’s youth set-up and the second this week after Oxford University tighthead prop Joe Morris.
Meanwhile, older brother Graham is aiming for a strong end to the year with Tigers.
His partnership with Will Spencer has become something of a fixture in the Tigers’ engine room.
As Kitchener pointed out, both had early season issues which meant that their partnership has been relatively slow in developing.
Kitchener had hip surgery last summer and was still regaining full fitness when the season kicked off, while Spencer was hit by suspension after being red-carded at Wasps.
And when he did get back into action, he was hit by a knee injury which kept him out of the side at the turn of the year.
“The last few months we have played together a lot and it’s been really good,” said Kitchener.
“Will is a big, abrasive ball-carrier and defender. He is a good line out forward as well so I think we complement each other well.
“I think we have been able to get some good practice in with some good training sessions and that’s coming to bear in the games.”