IT’S been quite a week for Coventry scrum-half Pete White.
Selected by England Counties to play against Scotland Clubs XV this Friday, the 25-year-old celebrated by scoring his first ever hat-trick of tries in Cov’s win over Hull Ionians which was followed by a club announcement that he has signed a contract extension to stay at Butts Park next season.
That’s all good news for White, who missed the first six weeks of the season as he recovered from summer hip surgery and had no initial thoughts of making the England Counties squad..
“I had a message from Rowland Winter before we played Old Albanians saying that the England Counties coach coaches them and if I had a desire to play for them, then obviously that would be a good game to play well in,” said White, who will be joined by clubmates Andy Brown, Jimmy Litchfield and James Stokes in the game at Birmingham Moseley.
“Since then it’s something I have thought of a bit, but I’ve tried to keep my focus on playing well for Cov and anything that happened after that in terms of representative stuff would be a bonus.
“I was injured when I came here, so then I was just looking at getting back fit and playing week in, week out for Coventry.
“Obviously I’m chuffed to be selected and I can’t wait to get started.
“It’s an honour – it’s not very often you get the opportunity to represent your country. As a kid growing up you dream about it, and the opportunity to pull on the jersey with the red rose on Friday night will be one I will cherish for a long time.”
The 23-man squad meets up in Solihull today and will train at Billesley Common for two full days before a captain’s run on Friday.
“It’s great for the club to have four players involved and it just goes to show how well some of the boys have played this year,” said White.
“Stokesy and Browny have played for them before and have shown why they were picked with their performances again this year, and Jimmy has had a really good season.
“We’re going to be spending three days together as a squad, which is not much time to do anything other than get to know each other which we need to do quickly.
“It’s one of the joys of playing this game – you get to be good mates playing together on the field but then enemies when you are playing against each other. It’s all good fun.”
White this week committed his future to Cov, along with half-back partners Tony Fenner and Will Maisey, despite attracting the interest of Championship clubs.
“I did have a couple of offers, but with the ambition that Cov have got and especially the enjoyment that I’ve had this year this was something I couldn’t really turn down.
“Next year hopefully we can go one step further and have a real good go and compete for top spot in the table. Along with the rest of the boys who are re-signing, I’m looking forward to staying.
“I enjoyed my time at Bedford Blues, but I didn’t play as much as I would have liked whereas this year I’ve been able to play the majority of games when I’ve not been injured and it’s been good to get a run of games, which is exactly what I needed.
“Not having a pre-season has caught up with me, I’ve been feeling it, and a couple of weeks ago I did say to Rowland that I was feeling very tired, but with Sam Grasso coming back it gave an opportunity for him to have some game time.
“I’ve just got to dig in now, there are only seven games left and hopefully between us we can stay competitive and have a good end to the season.”
White’s home performances have earned him a string of sponsors’ man-of-the match awards with last weekend’s coming on the back of his try hat-trick.
“I’d never scored one before in my life,” he said, “so I was pretty delighted to get over for that third try late on.
“It’s good to be recognised, but obviously it’s not just down to me – the forwards have been good through the year and with Fenner and Maisey outside me it’s easy to get on with my job.
“We’re looking to build momentum for next year, and all I can do is keep plugging away and doing my bit for the team.”
And the bottle of champagne that comes with each award? “Funnily enough, I’ve not opened them yet – they’re just sat in my living room at the moment, acting as ornaments on the window sill.
“But I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to open them soon, perhaps to celebrate after Friday night.”