London Irish and English winger Ollie Hassell-Collins makes an impact on and off the pitch

As rugby is expected to grow in profile and engage a wider audience beyond the narrow present area, the sport needs more players like Ollie Hassell-Collins.

The London Irish wing and hopeful England are not afraid to stand out from the crowd. On the pitch, his 10 Premiership tries and impressive form this season saw him catch the attention of Eddie Jones.

Also, Hassell-Collins is not your average latte-sipping rugby ace playing Call of Duty. He takes his three cats Betsy, Albus and Marmalade for walks, loves tattoos and is a Harry Potter fanatic.

London Irish winger Ollie Hassell-Collins (pictured) is not afraid to stand out from the crowd

London Irish winger Ollie Hassell-Collins (pictured) is not afraid to stand out from the crowd

He recently caught the attention of several fashion brands, made his first steps in the modeling world, and became an ambassador for the charity Rugby Against Cancer.

“I think we have seen progress in how rugby is trying to develop,” said Hassell-Collins Sports mail.

“It’s tough because sports like soccer and Formula 1 have apparently been doing it for years. We can’t expect to be like this overnight, and it could take several seasons to get there, but I think rugby definitely can.

“I think more boys are doing their job now. Look at someone like Joe Marler who is almost the face of rugby because of the way he is off the pitch.

“I think as players we are able to express ourselves the way we want to. In the way the world goes, it all depends on how you are off the pitch. Of course, you have to perform and put your team first, but at the same time it’s important to build your own brand.

The London Irish winger (center) has been one of the Premiership's biggest stars this season

The London Irish winger (center) has been one of the Premiership’s biggest stars this season

“If you have the right people around you, they can help you with that.

“I have told the people I work with what interests me, and if there are people in these fields who want to work with me then we can take a look.”

Hassell-Collins, 23, was a member of the England Six Nations squad earlier this year, but has yet to join the squad and has not been selected for Jones’ final training camp.

He continued: “At Irish, we have built an environment where we can be ourselves and be comfortable doing it.

“I was able to bring this into my home life and express it through my social media.

His 10 Premiership attempts and impressive form this season saw him catch the attention of Eddie Jones

His 10 Premiership attempts and impressive form this season saw him catch the attention of Eddie Jones

“I try to open up to my fans so that they can learn a little about me and not just what I do on the pitch. At the moment, I’m only on Instagram. I’m not interested in TikTok and all dances!

“A few boys from England asked about my cats. The main question I had to face in the camp was walking on them. Eddie started calling me “Catman” whenever I saw him!

“He said he doesn’t like cats, but I showed him the pictures. One of our cats grew quite large and thought it was pretty cool. I will keep him updated!

At Rugby Union Writers’ Club’s 60th birthday lunch recently, England’s 2003 World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio rightly lamented the sport’s inability to sell itself to the wider world. Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje also sent the same message.

Hassell-Collins likes to take his three cats for walks, Betsy, Albus and Marmalade

Hassell-Collins likes to take his three cats for walks, Betsy, Albus and Marmalade

The rugby team ethos is of paramount importance and is one of its enduring characteristics, but it has likely led to some players reluctant to turn their heads over the railing.

In order to have problems with sports like soccer and F1 in global awareness, rugby needs superstars to excel at. At the moment, the truth is that there are very few of them.

Rugby took a step in the right direction by releasing “Prep to Win – Arlequins” on Amazon Primebut out-of-the-box initiatives like this must become the norm, not the exception as it is now.

Hassell-Collins is not yet a household name, but he is heading towards it.

He has been one of the Premiership’s breakout stars this season and is hoping to make his first England appearance on this year’s Australia tour.

The 23-year-old is not your average latte drinker, Call of Duty rugby ace

The 23-year-old is not your average latte drinker, Call of Duty rugby ace

“Several English boys were behind Harry Potter – Freddie Steward was one of them,” laughed Hassell-Collins. “Cats were the most important thing – my girlfriend Eloise sent me their videos.

– I was going on her FaceTime just to see them! I spent a lot of time with Marcus Smith and Freddie. Maro is one of those guys who have been doing well off the pitch and have done some pretty cool things.

“This is something I would definitely like to do in the future.”

Hassell-Collins is part of a dynamic young Irish outfit and the club looks like a promising academy is pushing around with players like Henry Arundell and Will Joseph.

Eloise's girlfriend sent Hassel-Collins videos of her cats while he was on duty in England

Eloise’s girlfriend sent Hassel-Collins videos of her cats while he was on duty in England

“It’s always frustrating not to get elected, but I loved every minute of being with England in the Six Nations,” said Hassell-Collins. “With the players around you, it’s impossible not to learn. I got some good feedback from the trainers that I wanted to take on board.

“The most important thing was consistency and the level of quality I need to have in training. In England, everyone is trying to prove themselves and I have to transfer that to the Irish.

“I have to train like an England footballer every day. I know what I have to do to try to take off on the summer tour and hope to do it.

“It has always been a dream to play for my country. It would mean that much. English rugby is in such a good place for depth and quality. At Irish I’m looking forward to seeing some of the guys progressing and maybe in the future we could have an entire academy or all XV English.

– That would be pretty cool. Our goal is to win it all. It’s a really exciting time and I think Premiership clubs want to play with their younger players because they know there is quality there. We saw that in Irish with Henry and Will. English rugby will be fine in the future. “

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