JAMES Whitcombe says his England experiences can only hold him in good stead as he looks to break through into the Premiership.

The Keighley-born prop has just returned from a three-day training camp with the England Under-20s.

The 19-year-old was part of an initial 45-player squad selected by new head coach Alan Dickens for the camp, held at Bisham Abbey, Buckinghamshire, ahead of next year's u20s Six Nations Championships.

Now it is back to domestic matters for Whitcombe, who earned promotion to Leicester Tigers’ development squad for the 2019-20 season.

This was after he had played a key role in the Tigers Academy’s back-to-back league titles over the past two seasons.

He is now learning off some of the sport's best, as he trains full-time with Tigers stars including Manu Tuilagi, George Ford and Dan Cole. He has also been loaned out to National Two South side Leicester Lions this season to gain experience in the seniors game.

Despite his fledgling international recognition, Whitcombe, who played rugby league for Keighley Albion as a youngster, has never forgotten his Keighley roots.

He said: "It was really good to be included in the camp.

"They will pick a squad of 32, so I still have a bit of work to do. There is a second camp in January.

"But my main focus is Tigers, anything on top of that is a bonus really. Anything that comes with it is nice.

"It's a massive change from the Academy being in the Tigers' Development squad. I get to spend time with the senior boys.

"In this first year I need to get as much experience as I can. I'm learning off the older guys and I'll see how it goes.

"If an opportunity to play in the first-team comes up in the next 18 months or so that would be great. I'll keep going at it. I have to be ready for it. It's a long ball game, wait and see.

"It's great playing at Leicester Lions. I'm used to playing against schoolboys, I'm playing against men. I'm scrummaging against experienced guys."

Whitcombe played his early rugby for Skipton and then Bradford & Bingley as well as Woodhouse Grove School on the way to the Tigers.

The sport is in his blood as he follows in the footsteps of father Martin, who made 68 senior appearances in Leicester colours in the 1980s.

James has also earned age-grade honours with England Under-18s, and spent last summer on a player exchange visit with Sydney University FC in Australia.

James’ grandad Frank junior propped for Bradford, Yorkshire and North Eastern Counties, while his great grandad Frank senior played rugby league for Bradford Northern and Great Britain.

James joked: "My dad was not the one pushing me into rugby, my mum was. There is no pressure from family at all.

"I've been back up to Keighley a little bit. If I get a weekend off, I come up, which is nice.

"I always see how Keighley, Skipton and Bradford & Bingley have got on."