Willi Heinz has rejected stinging criticism from Danny Care over his England selection by stating his team-mates have fully embraced his inclusion in the World Cup squad. As his country’s second most capped scrum-half, Care was expected to travel to Japan but fell out of favour last November and has not played since.
Instead, Heinz emerged from relative obscurity to be selected as a World Cup bolter after spending the first 28 of his 32 years in New Zealand where he played for the Crusaders. Care lamented the fact he has been sidelined by a rival from overseas who qualifies through an English grandmother, stating: “It does sting, it really hurts.”
Heinz responded: “All I can say is that my absolute commitment is with England. Do I feel like I have to defend myself to the team? No, because no one in the team is asking questions about me on that side of things and at the end of the day the rules are the rules.
“I’m really excited to be here, I feel really privileged and honoured to represent England and I’m just excited about contributing what I can to the team in whatever way it is going forward.”
As one of only two scrum-halves in England’s squad alongside Ben Youngs, Heinz is guaranteed to be involved in every match starting with the opening Pool C fixture against Tonga on September 22. Adding to the challenge ahead is the oppressive humidity of Japan that will make a nine’s task all the harder due to the lack of grip on the ball.
(Continue reading below…)
“It’s hard when the ball becomes quite sweaty and you’re playing in the heat, but it’s something that we’ve known for some time and we’re preparing for,” Heinz said. “You’ve just got to walk towards the challenge and get excited for this. We had a good couple of weeks in Treviso over in Italy preparing in those conditions and getting a handle on it.
“And then again here in Miyazaki this week. Once you’re here and you start to get a bit of a feel for it, you’ve just got to embrace and get on with it. That’s the reality of what you’re faced with, but it’s the same for everyone so we’re not getting carried away with it.”
– Press Association
WATCH: The RugbyPass Lego World Cup
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.