Taking on an England star every day in training for a starting berth is no easy task, but Saracens full-back Ben Ransom admits his time at Bedford Blues has prepared him for the challenge.
The 22-year-old was a key part of the Blues side that reached the Greene King IPA Championship final in 2013, losing narrowly over two legs to Newcastle Falcons.
Ransom remained dual registered with Bedford last year but enjoyed a breakout campaign for Saracens, despite having to compete for the jersey with Alex Goode.
Although Ransom has now firmly established himself at the London outfit, he insists he is open to another spell at Bedford if the first-team opportunities dry up.
And the former England U20 international has urged other young Saracens to consider a stint in the Greene King IPA Championship to aid their development.
“I’m not dual registered but if it comes to a stage where I’m not playing very well or Goodey’s doing so well I’m not getting the game time then it’s something I would look at,” said Ransom.
“That year we got to the Championship final against Newcastle Falcons was awesome, and Bedford are a great group of guys.
“When the guys come from the U20s and you’ve got a year or two where you aren’t necessarily going to be playing a lot at Sarries and they need the experience, Bedford is a perfect proving ground.
“It’s good for Bedford as well because it gets some young guys up there who really want to play week-in week-out to the best of their abilities so it can only help Bedford – it works as a best of both worlds.”
After their impressive run to the final, the Blues slipped to ninth last season and have endured a similarly tough start to this campaign.
Yet Ransom is confident that Bedford’s youngsters can fire their side back up the table soon.
“In the Championship, three of four years ago you could say that there would be that one team you would think would win all the games and get promoted,” he added.
“But in the last couple of years, you’ve got Bristol, Worcester and Yorkshire Carnegie that can easily go on and win it along with teams like Bedford that can also challenge.”
He added: “It’s a better proving ground now for young players – the main thing is it allows you to play every week and get a number of performances under your belt, which gives you that experience and to kick on from there.”
Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news follow @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visit www.rfu.com/championship