England rugby union international Jack Clifford has special reason for backing the work of a Leatherhead-based charity.

The 23-year-old flanker, who has made six appearances for England and has travelled with the squad for the three-Test series in Australia, has been named as patron for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

Clifford stepped up to the role in memory of his friend and team-mate Matthew Cragg, who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2014.

The pair had played together for Cobham’s U21 county cup winning sides in 2013, before Clifford went on to cement a place at Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership.

He said: "I'm very honoured to be a patron for CRY.

“The work they do is amazing, and so crucial, especially in young athletes.

“The main reason I have wanted to get involved is after a good friend, Matt, passed away from a heart condition aged only 21, with no warning.”

He added: “As a patron, I want to raise awareness of the work CRY does, especially in schools and sports clubs, in screening young people involved in sport.

“I want to do anything I can to lessen the chances of young, fit sportspeople, like my friend, dying from an unknown heart condition."

Every week in the UK, around 12 young people under the age of 35 die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition, and 80 per cent will occur with no prior symptoms.

Dr Steve Cox, CRY’s chief executive, said: “We are privileged to announce Jack as our latest patron from the world of sport – particularly as he has such a strong and personal reason to want to become involved in the work we do.”

“His growing success and public profile will really help to reach out to a wide audience – and I know he has a very real commitment to helping to champion our cause.”