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'No way I'm saying no': Lynagh clears up his Test level allegiance

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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England squad pick Louis Lynagh has addressed the commentary that he is still eligible for Australia and Italy after the recent Guinness Six Nations championship finished without him getting a debut cap with Eddie Jones’ side. The three-way Test level eligibility of the Italian-born, English-raised winger of Australian descent through his famous father Michael has been a point of fascination ever since he made his club breakthrough last season at title-winning Harlequins. 


Lynagh was a revelation in Quins’ surge to win the Gallagher Premiership and the question of his international allegiance remains a hot topic. Having originally trained with England during the Autumn Nations Series, he didn’t make the initial squad selected by Jones for the Six Nations. 

However, he soon forced his way into the equation and embarked on a cycle of training with England for two days at the start of the week before returning to Harlequins and playing for them at the weekend. That routine then changed in the final week when he was part of the squad of 28 taken by Jones to Paris on the Tuesday. 

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That was encouraging, yet no sooner did it emerge on the Thursday evening that he hadn’t made the matchday 23 were reports written in Australia about how the 21-year-old Lynagh – because he had remained uncapped – was still eligible for selection by the Wallabies ahead of their three-Test July series against the touring England. 

Lynagh, though, has now knocked that speculation on the head. Asked by RugbyPass on Wednesday he explained that his ambition is to be capped by England and not the land of his famous father. “It was a great experience being able to go to Paris for that last game and experiencing France winning there, the atmosphere in the Stade de France was amazing. Something I will cherish for the rest of my life is my first Six Nations game (as an additional squad player), being able to experience that.


“But the most important thing is if I translate what I have learned in England camp to playing for Harlequins and playing well, that is all I can do and whoever I play for, I would love to play England as I am here and if I get that opportunity and Eddie calls me tomorrow and says, ‘Play for us’, there is no way I’m saying no. But it’s just about focusing on this weekend against Montpellier and then the following weekend and finishing off the season strongly and seeing what we can do from there.”


Having helped Harlequins consolidate their push for the Premiership playoffs with a run off the bench versus London Irish last Sunday, Lynagh is now looking to assist his club when they visit Montpellier in this Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 encounter. He has returned to Harlequins duty from his international stint with his outlook very focused after England training refined his game. 

“It was a challenge coming back and forth from both camps, different types of training, different play-calling and stuff like that but from that eight weeks, it has just been night and day from when I began,” enthused Lynagh on what England squad selection did for him.

“There was added pressure but I like to think I thrive under pressure and the England camp has not taught me new things but helped me refine my game, what is important and what is not important, just focusing on specific areas of my game and narrowing it down to if I just do these three or four things every single game and do it at a world-class level you will be playing internationally in no time or you will be winning games with Quins and playing amazingly every time. 

“That is what has been really important. Something I have been trying to figure out since I was a kid is not trying to do too much or not try to do everything at once and just being able to focus on a few things and being able to do those really well is what has been really good.


“And being in an environment with players I have watched since I was back in school since I was 13 and 14, and also being able to train and see Marcus (Smith) play, Joe Marler, Joe Marchant, Alex Dombrandt and all these guys who I can lean on in (England) training sessions, that has been really, really useful and hopefully there is many more to come.”

His Harlequins coach Tabai Matson has predicted there will be many more England opportunities for Lynagh, that he will be capped and will go on to enjoy a long career at Test level for the country he moved to at a young age once his dad finished up playing club rugby in Italy.  

“It’s a fascinating one and Louis and I have had this conversation – it has been a different year but a tough year because going into that level of the game and the expectations and the preparation that they are trying to get to for a Six Nations game, spending two days with England, their calls, how they are playing differently and then coming back into our environment and pretty much polishing up his game and then going on and playing for Quins, he has done that for eight weeks and we have real admiration for the way he has gone about that. 

“So he has only grown from that experience and we are really hopeful that he spends a long time in the England jersey and we are waiting for him to play his first game and push to that next level. With that in mind, one of the great things about Louis is he has delivered on the biggest stages.

“That is one of the things they see in the England camp – when it really matters he steps up, he defuses bombs and makes the toughest carries and makes the toughest carries. Weeks like this (in European action), Louis tactically has got a big burden but we know he can do it so the experiences with England have been really important for his growth.”


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