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Alex Brooks in the 2013 Rugby Varsity between Manchester Metropolitan and University of Manchester

Alex Brooks sets sights on England students’ team

* As the MMU scholar prepares for the return of the rugby season, he reflects on his career highs and lows and what the future holds

REPORT: LUKE MOLLOY

HAVING never played rugby as a child, Alex Brooks’ career started later than most. With the help of a professional body building Dad and persistent friends, Alex embarked on a roller-coaster rugby career.

Halfway through his second year at Stockport Grammar School, Alex got his first taste for rugby after friends persuaded him to play. After playing for two years, Alex got his first trial at county level for Cheshire. Whilst playing for Cheshire u15s, he came across the first setback in his career as he broke his arm leading to him missing a season for Cheshire.

The bad luck didn’t stop there, as another injury would cost him another season at Cheshire as he broke his ankle during a rugby league game at the age of 16. Alex describes his injuries as the biggest challenge in his career as he says; “they take a lot out of you.”

It would be at the age of 18 where Brooks’ career would start to take off. Whilst playing in a sevens tournament for Cheshire, Sale Sharks spotted him and was offered a trial in which he passed and joined the u18s programme. Brooks pinpoints this “as a moment where I felt I could achieve something within the sport.”

Whilst at Sale Sharks, he toured Ireland in his first year. Sale played the likes of Leicester and Worcester, winning both games. Back in England, Sale reached the play offs at Allianz Park and took a 4th place finish which Alex described as a “disappointing result but a great experience.”

“At Sale, I knew players from previous clubs which was intimidating as these players had been at Sale for years and carried a reputation with them. But I saw it as a challenge as I wanted to reach the same level as the players around me.”

Alex had always had the idea of going to university and wanted to study physiotherapy. Rob Jones, MMU rugby coach, had met with Alex whilst at Sale and had convinced him to join MMU.

In his first year at MMU, Sale Sharks recalled him to the jets team, in which he played Wasps. He described it as: “The highest standard I’ve played at and one of my favourite moments in my career”.

After playing for MMU rugby team for a few years as a scholar, Alex was given a trial at Lancashire. Playing for Lancashire u20’s would provide great memories for Alex as he was part of the side that reached a final at Twickenham but would fall short at the last step as they lost to Yorkshire.

February 2020 would provide another setback for the young rugby star as another ankle injury would bring his Lancashire career to a halt. The injury came at a time when Alex had hoped to achieve playing for the England counties team.

Covid-19 would provide extra challenges for Alex; “Lockdown has been really tough, especially after coming off the back of an injury. It has slowed down the rehab process and physiotherapy. However, being able to go back to the gym and now start conditioning training has been massive for me.”

Despite recent setbacks, Alex aims for achievement as he said: “My initial goals were to get a regular starting position in the MMU team but for the future the main aim is to get into Lancashire open age team and England students’ team.”

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