From Counties to Croke; Sevens star Strettle goes centre stage
23 February 2007 14:20pm
David Strettle will tomorrow (Saturday 24th February) complete his jet-heeled rise from England Counties to full cap, with his house and team-mate at NEC Harlequins backing him to turn on the gas at Croke Park. Two years ago, the then unknown Rotherham winger was lining up to play for the England Counties side who tonight play Ireland Clubs XV at Donnybrook, Dublin (kick-off 7.05pm).
Now the 23 year-old from Warrington will make his England debut in place of the injured Jason Robinson in the RBS Six Nations clash against Ireland, kick-off 5.30pm. It completes a remarkable rise to the spotlight, to the delight of Quins colleague Danny Care, who leads England U20s against Ireland in Athlone tonight.
"Stretts is one of those people who will get on with it whatever the situation," said Care. "I remember when he came to the Sevens and made his debut with me last year - he scored five tries in the first half against Papua New Guinea in Wellington. He is one of the best wingers in the Guinness Premiership and I'm really pleased for him."
"He'll be nervous but that is a good thing for anybody going into such a big game. Jason Robinson is one of those people he has looked up to and he'll want to go out and show people what he can do. Some people might say Croke Park is not the easiest place to make your England debut but this will only spur Stretts on to do better."
Strettle himself is taking it in his stride: "Playing for my club, the England Sevens team and the Saxons has played a big part in me getting into the England squad and now making my debut tomorrow. I see all of those experiences as part of the build up to the really big days and Saturday is definitely one of those."
"I really enjoyed my experience with the sevens squad and I worked and played with some superb players as a result. My aim in my playing career has always been to keep my head down, work hard and hope that things like making my debut for England on Saturday happen. I have never raised my expectation levels too high because sometimes you can be disappointed."
"It has been absolutely brilliant coming into the England squad - so many of whom I have watched on television - and I have been made to feel very welcome. They are the best players at the moment that England has to offer and it is great to be part of it, and what I hope will be a great occasion tomorrow."
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.