Jimmy Gopperth says it is “scary” to see how far Wasps’ England hopeful Jack Willis will go in top-level rugby.
Uncapped flanker Willis produced a command performance in front of England head coach Eddie Jones as Wasps reached their first Premiership final for three years with a 47-24 drubbing of Bristol.
The 23-year-old scored a try, saved another with a brilliant tackle to deny Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy and bossed the breakdown area like a seasoned veteran.
On current form, it would be a monumental surprise if he does not feature during England’s six-game autumn schedule, which has matches against the Barbarians, Six Nations opponents Italy and four Autumn Nations Cup fixtures.
Willis was selected by Jones for England’s 2018 South Africa tour, but a serious knee injury put paid to his chances and sidelined him from the sport for several months.
“Jack is going from strength to strength,” said Wasps centre Gopperth, whose 22-point haul underpinned Bristol’s demise.
“He is still so young. It’s scary to see how far he is going to go.
“The way he has battled back (from injury), his self-determination and the way he has stayed on point.
“It would have been very easy for a young guy to mentally switch off and go ‘Jeez, I got the call-up, this has happened to me, stuff this, stuff that’ and blame everyone else.
“But he has actually gone the other way and gone ‘I am going to work harder’. If he is not Premiership player of the year, something has gone wrong.”
Willis has proved instrumental in Wasps’ spectacular climb from the Premiership’s lower reaches they occupied