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'Kelly and Steward are a funny duo, a Del Boy, Rodney type vibe'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Seasoned back-rower Sam Underhill has outlined his enthusiasm in being surrounding by so many new faces in the current England camp, Eddie Jones giving Test debuts last Sunday to a dozen players as he looked to refresh the mood surrounding the 2019 World Cup finalists following their 2021 fifth-place Guinness Six Nations finish.  

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“Dan Kelly and Freddie Steward are a very funny duo, a Del Boy, Rodney type vibe – you can guess which one is which. They’re good,” thrilled Underwood ahead of Thursday’s announcement of the XV that will play Canada in the series-ending match this Saturday at Twickenham. “Dan is a pretty impressive communicator on the pitch.

“There are loads of young lads here, lads who haven’t necessarily been around camp a lot and what is nice is everybody is just being themselves, there is not an expectation to conform to a certain way of being. Lads are just bringing their own personalities, their own styles. Bevan Rodd is a bit of a joker and so is Chunya (Munga). It’s quite a good group to be around, it is quite fun. People are allowed to be themselves which is nice.”

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Underhill was the third most capped player in last weekend’s matchday 23 but he felt that there hasn’t been a noticeable difference between the players who know the ropes and those new to the scene. “There is no ‘I’m a senior player, you’re new’. It’s all very egalitarian. 

“Everyone’s throwing their weight in, everyone’s training as well as they can, everyone’s leading standards off the pitch, everyone’s hanging out with each other, there is no otherness which is cool. It’s really impressive, the communication skills on the pitch have been really impressive. There isn’t anyone here that is not pulling their weight.”

It was four years ago when Underhill, who turns 25 in a few weeks, earned his first cap while England were on tour in Argentina. The memories made at that time on his impressionable mind haven’t been forgotten judging by how he vividly recalled how established players left their mark on him. “The lads that have successful careers and had been around England for a long time, how hard they worked. It was my first involvement with internationals, guys I’d seen on TV, seeing how diligent they were at training. 

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“Chris Robshaw was always top on GPS and work rate in training, guys like Dylan (Hartley) were always doing extras. You would come down in the morning and he would be doing some wrestling or fitness on the mats. Just seeing how much work they put in behind the scenes was a big lesson for me as a young guy.”

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'Kelly and Steward are a funny duo, a Del Boy, Rodney type vibe'

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