Feb 22, 2017
In Focus: No regrets for Alex Lozowski
ALEX LOZOWSKI is a young man without regrets, writes Saracens programme columnist Tony Roche.
He doesn’t regret leaving Wasps for Saracens in the summer. He doesn’t regret being shown the door by Chelsea aged 16. He doesn’t regret setting his sights on an England cap after an approach to play for Italy last autumn.
Instead, Lozowski is loving life in an environment that encourages him to play what is in front of him. The 23 year-old fly-half insists he made the absolutely right decision to move, despite Wasps undoubted ambitions.
The schoolboys trials for Arsenal – alongside Harry Kane – and the years spent making and losing friends at Chelsea before he, too, was shown the door for being too small, he sees as absolute positives.
And when England head coach Eddie Jones summoned Lozowski into his autumn squad before the start of their four-Test Twickenham campaign, it served to cement his feeling of being English, being an England fan, in spite of a mixed Italian-Polish background – and being wanted right by new Italy boss Conor O’Shea.
“I spent two seasons at Wasps without playing anything like the number of games I needed to play.” He said: “I was anxious to get my career moving, and when I met Saracens rugby director Mark McCall, he simply pointed out how many games Charlie Hodgson played when sharing the competition for No.10 with Owen Farrell.
“Last season, Charlie and Owen virtually shared fly-half appearances as Saracens became champions of England and Europe. The way the club operates ensures everyone is tuned in to how we play, so when you get the call, you are 100 per cent prepared because we all train together.
“With Charlie retiring as a player at the end of last season for a whole new talent-finding role for the club, I realised that I would get games if my form and fitness earned selection because of how many Saracens players are being selected for international rugby.”
Lozowski, son of former Wasps and England centre Rob, favoured football at school. He had trials at several clubs, but was signed by Chelsea aged just 10. The whole attitude of such clubs to young players meant Lozowski grew up fast in ruthless surrounds.
He recalled: “It is cut-throat because, as a kid, you make friends with boys in your team and then next year three of them are gone and you don’t see them again.
“Other guys come and go every year, and it gets more difficult because of the growing sense of the inevitable, that your time is coming.
“Sure enough, Chelsea decided I was too small to make the grade when I was 16. I was a neat, tidy and bright footballer, but at that level you struggle to progress because top-level football is so stressful chasing instant success that they’ll always buy a superstar ahead of blooding one of their starlets.”
Norwich City and Watford headed a queue of clubs interested in taking Lozowski, but he’d actually had enough of their world, of their sport.
“After I got released I never really considered staying in football. I sat down with my parents, decided to stay at school, do my exams and go to university. I went to Leeds University to study economics, and although I had trials for the football and rugby teams, this time I opted for rugby.”
Life in the third and second XVs meant more social fun than serious ambition… until Lozowski was invited to train with Leeds at Headingley. Life was about to become far more serious as Lozowski’s natural skills emerged and the big boys became interested.
The trail led to Wasps who pounced in 2014. They knew the former midfield footballer was a natural rugby playmaker, they wanted him to stay. But they also had too many fly-halves, not least Jimmy Gopperth and Danny Cipriani.
Hence his decision to join the reigning champions of the northern hemisphere, where Lozowski believes being a former soccer player is actually a proven advantage.
“There are a lot of skills important to both sports. A lot of the great footballers in rugby, such as my team-mate Alex Goode and Cipriani at Wasps, are good football players as well. There’s definitely something in that, being able to see things and react faster than anyone else when an opportunity comes up.”