Wasps centre looking to finish on a high and earn central role
ELLIOT Daly will use the coming matches to boost his bid for the England No.13 jersey, knowing he must shine in the big domestic matches to prove he is the best option internationally.
Daly admits he started to wonder whether he was ever going to break onto the Test scene, having come into the Wasps team as a schoolboy and selected ahead of Jonathan Joseph for George Ford’s 2011 England U20 side, despite being a year younger.
However, after switching between 13 and 15 for a few seasons, he finally broke into the England ranks last season, picking up five caps off the bench.
This season, his seventh at the highest level despite still being just 24, saw him start all but one of England’s nine games since the summer tour of Australia.
His eight starts came on the left wing but Daly still sees himself as a centre and is determined to force the issue.
“Getting that first phone call from Eddie Jones was amazing,” Daly told The
Rugby Paper. “You have moments of doubt when you’re not being picked but you just have to know that when the moment’s right you will be and that’s what happened to me.
“I bounced around a couple of positions until two seasons ago and it probably didn’t help me. But as I get older I know where I can play and what I need to do to get to the next level. It’s down to maturity.
“The Six Nations was unbelievable. I just wanted to improve from last season, so to be involved in every game was great and I just want to keep pushing now.
“I still see myself as a centre so I try to get my hands on the ball as much as possible – but I’ve got to remember that I’m playing on the wing and get that balance right.
“If I keep playing well at outside centre for Wasps, England might pick me there but I don’t really mind where I play.
“JJ is a quality centre and he’s shown he’s a special talent being very consistent in what he does. It’s amazing to see how many people have come through from that U20s squad.
“We talk about it sometimes in camp and it makes things easier when you get there because you know most of the guys and you’ve played with them.”
Daly has parked his international ambitions for now, giving Wasps his full attention as they chase a home semi-final and potential Premiership glory for the first time since 2008.
They travel to bottom side Bristol today but, following their Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at Leinster two weeks ago, Daly is adamant they will give it their best to make sure they play their play-off game at the Ricoh Arena this time.
He added: “We’ll be treating every game as a Cup final.
“We’re top of the table but any slip up and we could drop to second and maybe even miss out on a home semi-final. We’re desperate for that home semi, so to be sure of it we need to win the next three games.”
After the Euroepan low a fortnight ago, Daly is looking for a positive finish to the campaign.
“We’re very disappointed by what happened in Dublin but being out of the Champions Cup does narrow your mind. Hopefully we can get that home semi-final and push on from there.
“We’ve got to cut the mistakes down to go as far as we want to in the Premiership. We have a lot of talented strike-runners in the back line and big ball carriers up front, but we have to get the balance right between taking risks and forcing things.
“We have to back our skills and if we have to go one more phase to score then so be it.”
Coming of age: Elliot Daly in the thick of it against Northampton