RUGBY UNION: HE IS the cornerstone of table-topping Wasps’ Premiership scrum and now Matt Mullan is determined to answer Eddie Jones’ England front row injury crisis and star for the Red Rose during next month’s RBS 6 Nations.
He has only ever started once in an England jersey in seven years but Jones now seems certain to turn to the experienced Wasps front rower to plug a sizeable gap in his set piece.
With fellow loosehead props Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler out injured, 29-year-old Mullan would appear as the front-runner to don the No.1 jersey on February 4 when England kick-start their Six Nations defence in Paris against France.
“Everyone wants to play for their country and it is out of your hands,” said Mullan. “It is a tremendous honour to pull on an England shirt.
“Things are going really well for England but Eddie has made a point of saying it is not about winning every game and that the next game is the most important.
“When we met up in camp in Brighton, all the talk was how do we best prepare to beat France. That is all we are thinking about.
“That is what Eddie has been really good at. In terms of competition for places, that is why we have pushed onto the next level.
“If anyone has been injured or unavailable then the people coming into the team have taken their chances and that pushes the competition for places right up.”
Mullan is one of six Wasps players named in Jones’ squad for the tournament along with Nathan Hughes, Joe Launchbury Tommy Taylor and Elliot Daly.
James Haskell was also named in the 34-man squad which will train in Portugal this week before assembling at Pennyhill Park to prepare for their opening match against France at Twickenham Stadium.
England head coach Jones said: “This time last year I said that the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby.
“Obviously I’ve been pleased with how the team’s progressing, but there’s still plenty to improve on. We always want to get better, every training session, every game.
“It’s good to welcome back a number of players who weren’t with us during the autumn. James Haskell was magnificent for England last year and is a fierce player.
“At the start of last year’s Six Nations I probably didn’t realise the enormity of the tournament and how intense the rivalry is between the countries, so this year we’ll be better prepared for it and we are looking forward to being daring in our game against France on 4 February.
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