When Tom West made his Aviva Premiership debut earlier this month, it was not only a proud moment for the youngster and his family, but also everybody of a Diss RFC persuasion.
West’s connection with Mackenders runs deep, having joined the club’s minis section and playing right the way through until the age of 15.
The now 20-year-old is also the son of the club’s former first-team captain and president, Duncan West.
So when the loosehead prop strode on to the Ricoh Arena pitch as a second-half substitute during Wasps’ 38-15 defeat to Saracens on January 7, it was a moment that will have been cheered 130 miles back on the Suffolk and Norfolk border.
“Diss is the first place I ever picked up a ball and played a game of rugby,” said the ex-England youth international, who helped his country win the World Under-20 Rugby Championships last year.
“I still get down there as much as I can. I feel like it is my club and I care deeply about it.
“The people behind the scenes run the club amazingly well. It is sustainable and has an excellent youth structure.
“Regardless of how the first team are doing, you can guarantee there will be more people down there watching than there are at teams playing three leagues higher.
“It is one of the most special clubs in the area and I owe it a lot.”
West’s outing against Saracens was his fourth taste of senior action with the Coventry-based side, having featured three times in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last year.
It has whetted the appetite for further appearances at that level, though West is just as eager to make the most of his ongoing loan stint with Nottingham in the Greene King IPA Championship — the second tier of English rugby.
“I did not walk out against Saracens and think that I have made it,” he added.
“I want much more of it and while I did not feel off the pace or anything like, there is still plenty of work left for me to do.
“Everyone aims and aspires to play at the very top, but it has to be one step at a time.
“It might be another four weeks or so until I get the chance to play in the Premiership again. A lot of it depends on injuries and availability.
“I am really enjoying the link with Nottingham. To become a better player you have to play regularly and I am getting that chance at Nottingham.
“I am lucky — Wasps is a great club with great history and Nottingham are helping me a lot.”