Uncapped Paolo Odogwu owes his inclusion in the 2021 England squad for the Guinness Six Nations to a piece of long-ago advice from the World Cup-winning Bob Dwyer that Eddie Jones has never forgotten.
Before Dwyer enshrined his reputation as one of the sport’s best coaches by guiding the Wallabies to World Cup final success in the 1991 decider versus England, he would have coached Jones at the famed Randwick club in Sydney.
And something his old mentor once said to him was foremost in Jones’ mind when it came to considering whether 23-year-old Odogwu deserved a shot in the England squad in the weeks ahead following a winter of excellent progress at Wasps.
Odogwu wasn’t even in the frame as a club starter when the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season started in November. However, midfield injuries presented him with four consecutive starts in the league and in Europe before he continued his fine form when reverting to his more recognised position on the wing.
By the time the league went into its recent two-week circuit breaker, Odogwu topped the charts for most metres gained, his 367 tally way ahead of next best Alfie Barbeary on 295. He had also made the most clean breaks, his 12 two more than second-best Henry Purdy, while he was also the league second highest try scorer with five and fourth-best in the defenders beaten section with a count of 19.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 2, 2021
Those numbers left Jones remembering the long-ago advice he got from Dwyer and it resulted in Odogwu becoming one of three uncapped players chosen in the England 2021 Six Nations squad, the other two rookies being Harry Randall and Beno Obano.
Asked when Odogwu first registered on his radar as a player to watch, Jones said: “I remember talking to the ex-director of rugby at Sale, Steve Diamond, about him, watching him in a game. He said this kid has got a lot of power, he has got a lot of potential.
“Then he changed to Wasps. Didn’t have that much game time last year but certainly every time he plays he has got something about him.
“I was lucky enough to be coached by a guy called Bob Dwyer and one of the things he always told me about selection was look for those players who can be world-class at something and he [Odogwu] can be world-class in terms of line breaking. That is the thing that has caught my attention all the time.”
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) January 22, 2021
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