ONE of Helensburgh’s brightest young rugby prospects has played a key role for Scotland in the second annual Under-18 Six Nations Festival.

Flanker Josh King was named in the starting line-up for the game against Wales last Wednesday – and came off the bench to play for more than an hour in a dramatic 42-40 win over Ireland three days later, in which the Scots snatched victory in the eighth minute of injury time.

King, 17, actually appeared in the squad listings for the tournament as a player for Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, where he is a pupil, and Stirling County – but he was a regular and committed member of Helensburgh Rugby Club’s youth set-up until late last year, and retains close links with the Ardencaple club, where he started playing rugby at the age of nine.

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And Iain Fletcher, co-ordinator of Helensburgh Rugby Club’s youth section, told the Advertiser he has high hopes of seeing King make a bigger name for himself in the sport in future.

“Even at a young age Josh’s ball-handling and tackling skills were impressive,” Fletcher said.

“He’s always been a great team player, and you could see from an early age that he had all the attributes needed to be successful.

“He captained Caledonia’s under-18 team when they retained the regional championship earlier this season. A wrist injury stopped him playing for about three months, but he was back in action before Christmas and has won a place in the Glasgow Warriors’ programme for identifying young talent.

“The Warriors suggested that he go and play with Stirling County to get himself more game time, but he’s still very much part of Helensburgh – in fact he was at the annual dinner for the club’s youth section just three weeks ago.”

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King has also secured funding from the Scottish Rugby Union to be part of the Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy, which has produced several players for the Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scottish international squads in recent seasons, including Matt and Zander Fagerson, Ali Price, D’Arcy Rae, George Horne and Blair Kinghorn.

“I think Josh was quite happy with the way he acquitted himself against Wales and Ireland,” Fletcher added.

“He certainly has the ability and the attitude to go further in the game and I hope he gets the support to steer him in the right direction.”