Banahan: I’ve silenced my Test critics

ENGLAND (26) vs SAMOA (13)

ENGLAND’S Matt Banahan insists his try-scoring performance in Saturday’s victory over Samoa proves he can cut it as a Test level outside-centre.

The strapping Bath back, who started out as a winger, was given his first international start at No13 against the Pacific Islanders in place of Mike Tindall.

And Banahan took the opportunity with both hands, impressing in the midfield with club colleague Shontayne Hape, who was named man of the match.

To cap it all he scored the second-half try that helped England pull away from stubborn Samoa, and now feels he has answered those critics who doubted him.

“I’d like to ask them if they have got any more doubts,” said Banahan. “I’ve always got confidence in myself and the coaches have confidence in me, that is why they play me there. Now I would like to see if those people still doubt me.

“If they don’t think I can play 13 that is their opinion but I did my best and hopefully I did enough after that first 15 minutes of shaky time.

“The Bath coaches said to me, ‘you’ve got the skills, go and prove it’ and for the last four weeks with England I have been running at 13 and getting my lines.”

Banahan’s display has put him in contention to stay in the side for Saturday’s final autumn international against South Africa, and means England manager Martin Johnson faces a tricky selection call.

The Jersey-born player, whose previous five caps have come on the wing, was quick to pay tribute to his burgeoning partnership with Hape.

“I thought Shontayne was brilliant,” Banahan added. “I think he’s getting all the praise for that try but I called that move. That’s the confidence that’s going through the team.”