Start­ing role Heinz gets the nod for Eng­land in clash with USA

Gloucestershire Echo - - DEACS' WEEK -

WILLI Heinz will start for Eng­land in their World Cup clash with the United States to­day (Thurs­day).

Heinz came off the bench in the clos­ing stages of Sun­day’s 35-3 win over Tonga in Sap­poro.

Univer­sity of Glouces­ter­shire prod­uct Ruar­idh Mc­connochie wins his sec­ond cap on the right wing with El­liot Daly con­tin­u­ing at full-back and Heinz get­ting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs

There are three sur­vivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Mar­ler, flanker Tom Curry and num­ber eight Billy Vu­nipola.

Open­side flanker and ex-glouces­ter Academy man Sam Un­der­hill drops out of the squad com­pletely.

Coach Ed­die Jones said: “The four­day turn­around is some­thing we ex­per­i­mented with against Ja­pan last au­tumn and so the play­ers have had some ex­pe­ri­ence of it.

“You have to make sure the two days be­fore the game are ex­actly the same as you would nor­mally have for any other game.

“What I see now is play­ers han­dling it re­ally well but the game on Thurs­day will be the lit­mus test.

“It is our best 23 and we have looked at some play­ers that would ben­e­fit not play­ing in this game, so have kept them out of the 23.

“But it is a great op­por­tu­nity for an­other set of play­ers to do the team proud.”

“USA are a tough, phys­i­cal team who are ex­tremely well coached by Gary Gold. There are a num­ber of play­ers who our guys know re­ally well and are a team we re­spect.”

Speak­ing be­fore the Tonga game, Un­der­hill owes a lot to his early rugby ed­u­ca­tion in Glouces­ter.

The Eng­land star learnt his trade at Lon­glevens Rugby Club and was cap­tain of the first team at Sir Thomas Rich’s School.

“All of the lads, ev­ery rugby player has played at an am­a­teur or school level at some point,” Un­der­hill told Glouces­ter­shire Live.

“Foot­ball is a bit dif­fer­ent be­cause aged five you’re get­ting picked up and go into an academy. But rugby is such a grass­roots game still.

“The at­mos­phere at your lo­cal club is not too dis­sim­i­lar to what you would get at any other club, which is bril­liant.

“We all owe so much to so many coaches, other play­ers, teach­ers.

“If you win a World Cup then kids in the coun­try start play­ing rugby. I’m sure there are a lot more Colom­bian cy­clists fol­low­ing the Tour de France this year - that’s the power of sport.”

Un­der­hill was seven when Eng­land won the World Cup in 2003 with Jonny Wilkin­son’s ex­tra-time drop goal against Aus­tralia in the fi­nal.

“I re­mem­ber every­one go­ing mad, I was in Manch­ester at my cousin’s house and every­one was re­ally ex­cited.

“I watched the game but I didn’t have a clue what was go­ing on be­cause I didn’t start play­ing rugby un­til four or five years later.

“I re­mem­ber the 2007 World Cup the try that wasn’t given in the fi­nal that’s prob­a­bly my first proper mem­ory of the World Cup.”

Un­der­hill was part of Glouces­ter’s Academy, mak­ing his de­but when he was still a school­boy be­fore opt­ing to study eco­nom­ics at Cardiff Univer­sity but he did not imagine be­ing at a World Cup four years later.

He spent two sea­sons at Ospreys where his per­for­mances caught the at­ten­tion of Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones and then moved to Bath to be el­i­gi­ble for se­lec­tion.

“I think the way most peo­ple get there is you work hard. Sport’s pretty fickle, you work hard, you get some good luck maybe some bad luck along the way, but if you keep work­ing hard even­tu­ally good things will hap­pen,” said Un­der­hill.

Un­der­hill re­called where he was dur­ing the last World Cup as Eng­land went out of their home tour­na­ment with a whim­per in the pool stages.

“I would have been at The Taff or at the Wood­mill pub,” said Un­der­hill.

“I was in a black T-shirt. Mourn­ing! We just zipped up our Bar­bour jack­ets!

“I fol­lowed Eng­land as a fan, but as a player I was a mil­lion miles away.

“Ob­vi­ously I was think­ing I would love to be there some day, but if I’d have said it (I’ll be there in 2019) peo­ple would cer­tainly have laughed. I don’t think any­one else would have said it!”

Jake Polledri takes on Eu­gene Jan­tjies of Namibia

Willi Heinz kicks the ball dur­ing the win over Tonga at Sap­poro Dome

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