George Breese is the latest international prop produced by Malton & Norton RUFC, the Yorkshire market town club that launched the career of Tomas Francis, the 77 timed-capped Wales tighthead.
Breese played for Scotland U20s for two seasons and recently his scrum dominance helped Stirling Wolves win the expanded FOSROC Super6 Series at Murrayfield with the loosehead delivering more evidence of the pace that sets him apart from other front-row forwards.
Sam Costelow, the Wales outside half, knows all about Breese’s speed having been chased down by the prop when the pair faced each other two years ago in a U20 international in Edinburgh.
At 120kg, Breese impressively hunted down the Welsh star in the 63rd minute of a highly attritional game, registering a personal best top speed and in fact, he clocked in as the third fastest player in the Scotland squad that day.
Now, the 22-year-old is heading to New Zealand to expand his skill set with the aim of following Francis into the professional game.
Breese, whose family home is close to Malton, attended Glenalmond College in Perth – which produced former Scotland captains David Sole and Rob Wainwright - and qualifies for Scotland through his father.
Breese played in the Scotland U20s front row with Ewan Ashman, the Edinburgh and Scotland hooker, and said:: “I am going to be playing for Burnside in Christchurch in the south island of New Zealand. I felt like I was ready for a change, and I figured I might as well try and combine rugby and career development with a bit of travelling. The move to New Zealand came about through a contact at the rugby club and there’s also a centre going out with me.
“I am looking forward to playing a different style of rugby. There’s going to be a lot more flair, speed and attacking rugby. Hopefully it will be beneficial for my own development as a player.
“I would love to go pro and play internationally for Scotland. Over the next couple of years, I will see if any other opportunities promote themselves while I’m out there. If there are opportunities in Australia, then maybe that’s something for me to get my teeth into.“
Breese joined Stirling County, the Scottish club that unearthed Kenny Logan, straight out of school in August 2019, and became the first sportsman to be recruited on the rUK Performance Sport Scholar programme at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Over the last four years, Breese has uniquely developed his craft at both loose and tighthead in the Super6 semi-professional side, Stirling Wolves. Eventually, Breese wants to specialise as a tighthead but he is hoping that his ability to play both sides of the scrum, combined with exceptional pace and physicality, is something that is attractive to rugby recruiters in the professional game.
He said: “I would personally prefer to specialise at tighthead. I am more comfortable there and I like having the weight come onto you from left to right and being able to drive as straight as possible.
“But I’m happy to be one of those players who can play both. I think that makes you more attractive and valuable to employers in the grand scheme of things.
“When I come back to the UK, I would love to come back to Stirling, but I would like to take it up a step and move onto something slightly bigger and better.”
Breese is grateful for the support of the coaches at Malton (who play in Regional 2 North East of the RFU pyramid), Terrington School and Glenalmond which prepared him for being part of the Stirling squad where he received advice about his diet and how to become a stronger player.
“I started playing at Malton mini’s when I was five or six years old,” he continued. “When we first started, we played tag rugby, just running around aimlessly, but I’ve always been a prop either left or right, doing whatever is required of me. In Malton, rugby is a religion; it’s farming, it’s beer and it’s rugby.
“In those early days, I was one of the slightly more rotund members of the squad, so it was a natural progression that I was going to play prop.
“I remember playing with Freddie Lockwood (Newcastle Falcons flanker) when we were eight or 10 and he was always the quietest guy off the pitch but the hardest-hitting bloke out there as soon as the whistle started the game. So, I think it shows a good bit of Yorkshire work rate and a desire to get stuck in. We had such fun in the clubhouse afterwards and on the many mini’s tours.
“I joined Stirling as soon as I left school and then played a season for the amateur team. I remember my first game for Stirling in the amateur team against Grangemouth Stag who had some seriously big boys. They had a look at me, a little 18-year-old chubby front rower and thought ‘Right, we’re going to make mincemeat out of this guy’ and they absolutely did.
“That was a pretty alarming start to my career at Stirling, but since then, I have got my technique right, put on weight and got stronger.”
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Despite getting heavier and more powerful, Breese maintained his ability to run quicker than most props but it hasn’t always worked in his favour.
“There are a couple of videos that float around my Scottish rugby group chat of me trying to catch up with a back who made a break through the middle. I chase after him, lose my balance, start winding down windows with my arms and face plant into the floor,” he admitted.
“It’s very funny and that’s me giving it 100 per cent but not always being fast enough to compete with the backs.
“It's not necessarily my acceleration, it’s actually my top-end speed when I am chasing a ball, I can really turn it on. It’s the adrenaline on the pitch which is what makes you run fast.”
And after showing what he is capable north of the border, this emerging talent is now off to New Zealand but don’t be surprised to hear the name George Breese crop up again in the not-too-distant future.