Raffaele Storti grabbed the headlines last weekend as he scored five tries to help Portugal defeat the Netherlands 61-28 in the Rugby Europe Championship - and now he wants to kick on.
The 20-year-old winger was unstoppable in Amsterdam and the result left Portugal sitting in second place in the 2021 table.
They will want to finish in that spot behind champions Georgia and a win in their final game away to Russia in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium this coming Saturday would go a long way to achieving that goal.
It would also leave Portugal in a good place as they aim to secure Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification, though there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before that event in France.
“Last week it was really important to win against the Netherlands to build on our win over Spain after earlier defeats against Georgia and Romania,” 20-year-old flyer Storti said.
“I really enjoyed scoring a few tries, but it was more important that the team was able to win with the bonus point.
“Our next objective on our road to France 2023 is to try and beat Russia, victory could be very important in helping us secure second place in the standings.
“The main goal which we’ve been focused on for a long time is to play in a World Cup.
“I think rugby in Portugal has been growing nicely. The good results achieved in recent years by under-18 and under-20 Portuguese sides show great potential for further development.
“However, we also need to professionalise rugby in Portugal in order to consolidate and enhance this development.”
Storti, who plays his club rugby for Clube de rugby do Técnico, now has eight full caps to his name having made a debut away to Brazil in late 2019.
So, how did he get into rugby?
“I was born and raised in Lisbon, my father is Italian and my mother Portuguese,” he explains.
“I started playing rugby when I was 10. At the time one of my best friends Jeronimo Portela, who is currently playing with me in the Portuguese national team, convinced me to try the sport and I never looked back.
“I identify with the values promoted by rugby such as team spirit, fair play and competitiveness. Furthermore, the sport has given me the opportunity to build up some very solid friendships.
“I played for the under-16, 18 and 20 Portuguese sides on the way up and this not only helped me to develop my rugby skills, but also allowed me to get used to a more demanding competitive level.
“Of course, I enjoyed scoring on my full debut in Brazil but, at the end, I was also a bit disappointed as we were not able to win that match [they went down 26-24 in Sao Paulo in November 2019].”
Remember the name Raffaele Storti, this player has a big future ahead of him. The match will be live streamed live on Rugby Europe TV from 12:30pm CET.
By Gary Heatly
Image: Luis Cabelo