DAN Robson’s excellent form for Gloucester over the past few weeks has been rewarded with a place in the England Saxons side to play Scotland A on Friday.
It will be the first time that the 21-year-old scrum-half has played for the Saxons although he trained with them in the build-up to the game against Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm last Friday.
Robson, who has been tipped for full England honours by Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies, will line up alongside Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns in Glasgow while Elliott Stooke starts in the second row.
Burns had a difficult game in the 14-8 defeat to Wolfhounds but was backed to come good by Saxons boss Jon Callard.
Stooke’s inclusion is reward for his impressive showing after going on as a 50th-minute replacement against the Wolfhounds.
Friday night’s game will be Stooke’s second for the Saxons. He described his debut as “overwhelming” and said: “What a special moment for me, especially at Kingsholm, in my home stadium in front of friends and family.
“Another chance against Scotland is fantastic. It was a shame about the result against Ireland but all credit to the Irish defence; they were superb all game.
“We had opportunities to finish them off but the defence was outstanding so we’ll look back and see what went wrong there.
“The set-piece was good and our ball retention was good. The coaches told us to keep our heads up – there was nothing to be ashamed of in that performance.
“The home support was a massive thing for me and knowing there are people around me supporting me all the way is something I am very thankful for.”
For up-and-coming talent such as Stooke, 20, and Robson, there is not only a physical pressure in stepping up to international duty but also a mental challenge in remembering new moves vital to the Saxons’ cohesion on the pitch.
Stooke added: “It’s been a great week or so but there has been a lot to learn.
“But this is what being a professional is all about, taking on that information quickly, developing it and putting it into a game.
“That’s the lifestyle we live and we have to deal with it despite the pressure.
“Work rate is one of the things we pride ourselves on but again knowing our detail and our roles is vital for the whole team.
“We have to make sure we are clicking together at the right time. You’ve got to get the calls and the moves right.”
Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples has to settle for a place on the bench on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm) after starting against Wolfhounds while Gloucester prop Yann Thomas has joined the Saxons squad and will travel to Scotland as cover.
England Saxons: Rob Miller (Sale Sharks), Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Adam Thompstone (Leicester Tigers), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby), Alex Waller (Northampton Saints) , Dave Ward (Harlequins), Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), Elliott Stooke (Gloucester Rugby), George Kruis (Saracens), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints, capt), Luke Wallace (Harlequins), Sam Dickinson (Northampton Saints). Reps: Jamie George (Saracens), Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Charlie Matthews (Harlequins), Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby).