Wasps fly half Jacob Umaga has revealed he discovered his call-up for England’s Six Nations squad via WhatsApp.
The uncapped 21-year-old, who is the son of ex-Samoa player Mike and nephew of former All Black Tana, said he was in the kitchen when he found out about the news.
He said: “I got added to a WhatsApp group chat by an England member of staff with all the logistics for the upcoming weeks. I thought I was being pranked for a second. When I found out, I was actually at the house of a girl I’ve been dating, making a stir fry for dinner. I’d just met her mum for the first time and it all just happened in one big moment.
“I was on the phone and she was like: ‘Why aren’t you talking?’ and I just said: “I’ve just been added to a group chat. I had a look through of who was in it, and I saw Joe Launchbury, Elliot Daly and Jonathan Joseph, and I was like OK this could be something.”
Umaga only made his Premiership debut in October and 15 months ago was lifting the Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland in New Zealand. On his return to England, he went back to Wasps academy duties and picked up valuable experience on loan at Yorkshire Carnegie in the Championship.
Tbe player, who represented England under-18s and under-20s, admitted the call-up was a complete shock. “It’s a bit surreal. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. I woke up Tuesday morning thinking: ‘Did that actually just happen?’ Everyone’s been congratulating me and it’s been a really nice feeling.
“I called my dad and all I could hear was screaming down the phone from my dad, mum, brother and sister. My mum didn’t believe me at first, she thought I was talking nonsense so I had to call her back and say it was real. It was out the blue. I’d just been getting over the concussion from a fortnight ago and focusing on trying to get back fit for Saturday’s game.”
“This time last year I was playing for Yorkshire at Richmond on a Saturday night so to make my Premiership debut, my European debut and now this – it’s been a whirlwind of a year,” added Umaga.
“I just want to take in as much as possible. For me, it’s about learning and the opportunity to learn off the likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford – watching them and trying to build and be the best player I can be. Any chance I get, I’ll try and take it.”
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young was quick to praise the progression of his academy graduate. He explained: “It’s a recognition of how well Jacob has played this season. He’s worked his socks off to improve.
“He had a stint in New Zealand which gave him some great experience. I think playing in the Mitre 10 Cup competition and rubbing shoulders with some quality players gave him a lot of confidence and belief and he’s come back and gone from strength to strength. He’s certainly been a different player this season – he’s got our attacking line moving really well, takes it to the line really well, and makes good decisions. His kicking game is excellent too.”