RUGBY League convert Shontayne Hape says he will be looking to Jason Robinson for inspiration when he makes his Test debut for England in tomorrow’s Cook Cup clash with Australia in Perth.
The former New Zealand international becomes the third ex-Kiwi to play Test rugby for England, although his two predecessors, Henry Paul and Lesley Vainikolo both failed to make the grade.
In contrast, World Cup-winner Robinson won 51 caps for England and five for the British Lions, making him, arguably, the most successful cross-code recruits of all time.
Now Hape, who won 14 caps for the Kiwis before switching codes to join Bath in 2008, wants to follow in the footsteps of the now-retired wing. “I look to guys like Jason Robinson who switched codes and went on to do great things,” Hape said. “I look to him for inspiration. I have looked at what he achieved and got out of the game.
“Being picked for England is one of the highest honours and greatest things any rugby player in England can do. I am really chuffed and honoured. It is a great feeling for myself and for my family and friends back in England. I am really looking forward to it.”
Hape, 29, comes in at inside centre to replace Riki Flutey in a side which shows four changes from the one which impressed against France in the final Six Nations match.
Toby Flood keeps the No10 shirt with Jonny Wilkinson settling for a place on the bench, while Danny Care continues to hold off the attention of Ben Youngs at scrum-half.
Hooker Steve Thompson and lock Tom Palmer both start, while Leicester flanker Tom Croft also comes back in.
ENGLAND XV | VS AUSTRALIA
15 Ben Foden; 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Chris Ashton; 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care; 1 Tim Payne, 2 Steve Thompson, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Simon Shaw, 5 Tom Palmer, 6 Tom Croft,
7 Lewis Moody (capt), 8 Nick Easter. Replacements: George Chuter, David Wilson, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Ben Youngs, Jonny Wilkinson, Mathew Tait