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Test rookie Bevan Rodd backed to deliver as new England loosehead

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

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It has been quite an eventful week for 21-year-old Bevan Rodd, the new England No1 who will start Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series game at Twickenham versus Australia. At the start of the week, Premiership Cup training at Sale was the schedule but that was soon to change. With Joe Marler ruled out through Covid, Rodd got the call to come down from Manchester. 

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Come Thursday the uncapped front-rower had leapfrogged the one-cap Trevor Davison in the pecking order and was chosen to sit on the England bench, but fast forward less than 24 later and he was dramatically promoted to the starting line-up after Ellis Genge reported a positive virus test. 

It was an eve-of-match drama that England had gone through the previous week versus Tonga. Skipper Owen Farrell was ruled out after he tested positive, his place at the starting No10 going to rookie George Furbank, the full-back who had never started at Test level at out-half. 

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Courtney Lawes, who was promoted to skipper in Farrell’s absence, dismissed any anxiety about the late reshuffle. “He [Furbank] is just a class player all round,” enthused the back-rower. “He can pretty much play any position so he will be fine… It will be sweet. I guarantee you.”

It was and a week later it was the turn of Farrell, restored to the line-up after it was confirmed his test result was a false positive, to provide the reassurance to England fans that there should be no fretting about suddenly having Rodd in the starting line-up after Genge was forced to isolate.

“There are other people in the squad who have spent a lot more time with Bevan than I have,” said Farrell, whose leadership was praised this week by new England assistant Anthony Seibold. “He was involved in the summer and has been in and around the squad since then. I know that people have a massive amount of respect for him around here and I know people are looking forward to playing with him. 

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“I got to know him a little bit when we got to meet up for a few days a couple of months ago and then him coming in this week. We will all make sure we are in a good to give him as much or as little information because we don’t want to overdo it. The thing about this team is making sure we look after each other, that it is never about one person. In that regard, he will hopefully be well looked after.”

Saturday will also be an outing where there will be a great focus on Farrell as it will be the first time he will play with Marcus Smith alongside him in the England team. What does he make of the rookie Test No10 whose inclusion will see the skipper run the inside centre channel? 

“Probably the more special thing about him is the ability to unlock a game on his own – his ability to control a game, control his team but with a sharpness to rip a game open in the blink of an eye. That is something he keeps going. He has only just started at the minute but he hopefully keeps that going for the rest of his career.”

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