Ellis Genge has opened up on his struggles with impostor syndrome, revealing that he has sometimes questioned his own place in the England team.
But the 28-year-old, who did not have a conventional path into the England team, has stressed to sometimes still feeling like he constantly has to prove himself even nearly eight years on from his international debut.
Genge made the candid admission in the new Six Nations: Full Contact documentary.
“I’ve been [playing for England] for a while now,” Genge says in episode two of the Netflix series. “But I always feel like I need to prove myself. I’ve struggled with it my whole life.
“I always felt like an outsider. I tried to keep it suppressed for a long time, but when you lose a game, that’s when I’ve struggled. You really do start to question if you are in the right place.”
The series follows a number of European rugby’s biggest stars across eight episodes chronicling the 2023 edition of the annual championship.
Genge features in an episode also telling the story of Italy’s Sebastian Negri ahead of the two sides’ encounter at Twickenham last February, which England won 31-14.
The prop reflects on his journey in depth, with footage of him revisiting the streets near the Bristol council estate on which he grew up.
Genge was in trouble with the law several times during his youth, and credits rugby with helping him avoid paths pursued by some of his peers.
“There were a few paths I could have gone down,” the Bristol Bears front-rower explains. “I could have followed my dad and been a plumber. Or I could have followed all the other kids and sold drugs. Rugby has definitely stopped me from doing stuff I inevitably would have been involved in.
“Any rules that I was given, I wanted to break. For some reason, I just wanted to rebel against everything. I didn’t really open myself up to people.
“I went down the wrong path numerous times. I got arrested like five times. Prior to that, I used to do some things that I probably won’t ever speak about – you can use your imagination.
“I probably looked up to the wrong people when I was growing up. Family members of mine that I never really met who were in and out of prison. I really chased that, for whatever reason – when you are young and naïve you chase that bad boy lifestyle.
“The one thing that rugby has taught me is barriers. It gave me discipline. It helped me big time.”
Six Nations: Full Contact is available to watch worldwide on Netflix.