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'Smashed': Rodd on THAT Ox Nche hit and advice given by two Lions

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Bevan Rodd getting forcefully driven back and landed on his arse in a dominant first-half tackle by Ox Nche was one of many moments on Saturday that prompted a huge vocal reaction from the capacity crowd packed into Twickenham to watch England. The hosts had been enjoying an opening period laced with potential and then there was the disturbing sight of Rood getting dumped backwards on 35 minutes by a rival Springboks prop in a brutal sign of what was to follow in the second half. 

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The 21-year-old starting loosehead wasn’t around for much of that. With South Africa unleashing their entire front row bomb squad with a 44th-minute change, Eddie Jones decided four minutes later to bring on Joe Marler for Rodd at the worrying time when the England scrum was unravelling for tighthead Kyle Sinckler.

Having twice led in the first half by eleven-point margins, somehow England survived twice falling behind in the final 16 minutes of a November classic to claim the bragging rights and feel chuffed with their resilience two years after they fell away without a whimper in the World Cup final in Yokohama. 

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That was a day where the notion of playing Test rugby was far from Rodd’s horizon, the prop at the time thinking he could have been making his debut for Sale FC versus Birmingham Moseley having previously been at Fylde. Even then, he couldn’t fully appreciate his monumental achievement this weekend, heading away to get his eye stitched up yet again rather than seeking out one of the Springboks props and exchanging jerseys. 

The only small talk with the opposition was with club colleague Lood de Jager and even that was just idle chit-chat about Sale where they both will be returning with the Premiership set to resume with next Sunday’s trip to Saracens.

Anyway, back to that Nche hit that sent groans racing around the Twickenham stands with England fans wincing in empathic pain with Rodd. “Really good until the Ox smashed me on that carry,” said the youngster when asked to reflect on what was just his second-ever Test appearance. “It really hurt. I tried to get him back but he didn’t carry after that. It’s one of those things, it’s rugby – you get smashed sometimes.

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“But apart from that, I thought I did quite well, especially at scrum time, but we slipped off in the second half and they got back in the game through that. If that didn’t happen it’s an easier second half for us.  

I feel like I did better last week (on debut versus Australia). I did alright this week. I feel like I could have been better in certain areas but I’ll take it and hopefully just use it as preparation for  my next one – if there is a next one.”

Rushed into the England team only last week after Covid ruled out Ellis Genge and Marler, it’s been a whirlwind ten or so days for the laidback Rodd who revealed some words of encouragement from a pair of Lions helped steeled him for what was the acid test of taking on the Springboks. 

It all started so well, too, with referee Andrew Brace warning Trevor Nyakane after England gained supremacy at the early scrums. “It gives you confidence, it gives you excitement knowing that the refs are concerned about him. But Trevor is a world-class scrummager, he knows what he is doing and if I face him again he will come back more so I will look forward to that.    

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“On Tuesday we were having our scrum session and Alex Corbisiero came in and he gave me a few tips on how to deal with people who are heavier. He was saying he wasn’t always the heaviest when he was younger so that really helped me out and it meant a lot for him to give me advice when he didn’t need to. 

“When I do my certain game routine I don’t get as nervous but where I get nervous the most is after the warm-up and you come in and sit down in the changing room for five minutes – I just overthink it massively. 

“Probably for that five minutes I get nervous, probably too nervous, but hopefully with age and experience I will stop getting as nervous but it would be impossible for me not to get nervous. Last week Tom Curry told me to grow up and get on with it, so I probably used that technique again. 

“I still have my confidence but I know I still have a lot to learn. I reckon I have learned three things a day during the eight, nine days I have been here. I am 21, I am not the finished article yet but I have got tonnes of confidence now because we have beaten South Africa,” continued Rodd, who is currently living with his parents in Blackpool.  

“I’m still the third choice. I feel like Marler and Ellis are better than me at the moment but this has hopefully put me in good stead to get more caps… and hopefully get in the World Cup squad.”

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