Wigglesworth gets international hope

Sun, 21 May 2017 19:32
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NEWS: Eddie Jones has given Richard Wigglesworth the chance to revive his England career after selecting the Saracens scrumhalf for the first time by including him in the squad to face the Barbarians.

The May 28 clash at Twickenham is a non-cap international, meaning the 33-year-old Wigglesworth won't be adding to his tally of 27 Test appearances - the last at the 2015 World Cup before Australian coach Jones took charge of England.

Wigglesworth has been a mainstay of the Saracens side that recently completed back-to-back European Champions Cup triumphs and also won last season's English Premiership title.

But having seen the London club's bid for a 'double double' end with a last-minute 16-18 Premiership semifinal defeat at Exeter on Saturday, Wigglesworth is now available for the Barbarians match.

By contrast, players from Premiership finalists Exeter and Wasps, who will play for the English title at Twickenham the day before the Barbarians clash are unavailable - as are those from Northampton, with the Saints involved in a playoff for the last place in next season's Champions Cup.   

Jones recently insisted "sometimes you can be a great player in a great side but not necessarily a great Test player" in defending his longstanding omission of the likes of Wigglesworth from his England setup.

But now he has challenged the Saracens star to prove he is worthy of future consideration.

"It's an opportunity to have a look at him and that's what the Barbarians game is for," said Jones on Sunday after unveiling his 29-man squad for the match against the invitational Barbarians.

"He's always been a good player and I think he's been playing a little bit better. With Ben Youngs away it's an opportunity to have a look at him. He's got the ability to be a contributor to the England side at the moment and that's what I'm looking at.

"It's definitely a chance for him to state his case," Jones said.

Wigglesworth has never given up on representing England again but that was no surprise to Jones, who said he could not understand why a player would retire from internationals yet continue to play for his club.

"Well he's English isn't he?," said Jones when asked if Wigglesworth had shown perseverance to force his way back into the England setup.

"I just think that's normal mate? Isn't that normal? He's a good player, I want to have a look at him," he added.

England, in their final match before next month's tour of Argentina, will need a new captain, given regular captain Dylan Hartley will be involved with Northampton on Friday.

Jones, however, refused to be drawn on the identity of his new skipper. Asked if one of the three tour vice-captains - Mike Brown, Danny Care and George Ford - would lead the team out against the Barbarians, he replied: "Not necessarily, no."

Agence France-Presse