Friday, January 15, 2010

Shontayne Hape proud to be an Englishman

Shontayne Hape has declared himself a proud Englishman after being selected for Martin Johnson's Six Nations squad.

New Zealand-born Hape, who picked up 14 rugby league caps for the Kiwis before his switch to the 15-man code in 2008, said on Thursday that he expected even family and friends back home to raise eyebrows at his quest for an England shirt.

But the 28 year-old, who has lived in England for seven years and got his residency papers earlier this month, says he sees no contradiction in a former New Zealand rugby league star being in the England union set-up.

"I was brought up in New Zealand and I'm proud of where I come from but I'm proud to be an Englishman as well and have dual nationality," said the centre, who moved from Super League outfit Bradford Bulls to Bath 18 months ago.

"Being in the squad is one thing, actually playing international rugby is another. I'm looking forward to the challenge and it's one that I'm going to relish.

Scotland internationals Alasdair Strokosch and Scott Lawson have signed new two-year contracts with Gloucester.

Flanker Strokosch, who has won 14 caps, joined Gloucester from Edinburgh in 2007, while 16 times-capped hooker Lawson left Sale Sharks for Kingsholm in Sept 2008.

Both players have been regular first-team starters this season.

Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath said: "Both players have been excellent so far for Gloucester this season, and are exactly the type of characters we want in the squad going forward.

"The pair of them signing shows their commitment to the club and continues our work in retaining our key players for next season and beyond."

Saracens back-row forward Don Barrell has been called into the England Sevens squad for the next two rounds of the IRB World Series.

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