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Delight for rising star Knight, but it's a shame for Sharples

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Shaun Knight

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SHAUN Knight's England Saxons test is the next step on his rise to tighthead prop dominance, believes Nigel Davies.

The 22-year-old Matson-born Gloucester front-rower was named in England's second-string squad for the first time yesterday.

And Gloucester boss Davies thinks the experience will help developing Knight continue his quickfire Kinsgholm improvement.

Neck trouble has sidelined Rupert Harden for the last few weeks. So far this term Harden and Knight have both shown up well in Gloucester's number three shirt.

Despite his short-term injury Harden was still a surprise omission from the Saxons squad, especially given he was called up to the full England squad as an injury replacement during the summer South Africa tour.

Tom Savage is perhaps another Gloucester who can count himself unlucky not to receive recognition, and there is no room in either squad for Nick Wood or Henry Trinder either. Backing Knight to become a top-class tighthead, Davies said that will still take years rather than months.

Davies explained: "It's good for Shaun, he's a developing tighthead prop, and they are a long time in the making, good tightheads.

"Shaun will be an excellent tighthead, in the next three to four years he'll develop into a top tighthead.

"But it's a difficult process to go through.

"He's had some good games recently, and he's been learning his trade in others, and that's a process he's got to go through.

"I'm very pleased that our overall involvement in both England squads has increased significantly and it's reflected in how we've been performing.

"We're delighted as a club, it shows we're progressing, and it shows the players are progressing too which is important."

Lancaster could find no place for Charlie Sharples in his senior squad, dropping him down to the Saxons.

Gloucester boss Davies admitted his surprise at that call – hailing Hong Kong-born Sharples' impressive club form.

Despite limited attacking options in recent weeks, Sharples' accurate back-foot play under pressure has been hugely impressive.

Sharples claimed two tries in England's autumn Fiji victory, but was employed on the left wing despite his natural propensity to play on the right.

England boss Lancaster favours Chris Ashton as his man strike wing, and yesterday hinted that Wasps tyro Christian Wade is pushing the Northampton wing very close.

Sharples might have a job on his hands to turn Lancaster's head back in his direction – but Davies backed the 23-year-old wing to do just that, and in some style too.

Davies continued: "I think it's the nature of the game, I spoke to Charlie about this, and the higher up in the game you go the harder it is sometimes, and the bigger the knocks.

"I don't think Charlie's done anything wrong, I think he's played very well for us, and it's a shame but the selectors have looked at it differently.

"They've looked at other players and taken a different view at this stage.

"But I'm sure Charlie will play for England again in the very near future. He's been excellent, his contact skills and defence have improved a lot.

"We know what he can do with the ball and he's looked dangerous, but he's been so accurate and delivered a high level of performance."

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  • stewglos  |  January 11 2013, 9:52PM

    I certainly hope that the best tight head in the Gloucester Rugby squad, Rupert Harden, is back as soon as possible. Our scrum is underpowered without him.

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  • rayglaws  |  January 11 2013, 9:42PM

    Rupert remains the number one and best tight head at Gloucester. I'm afraid to say that there is no one competing for HIS tight head position.

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  • dougiebailey  |  January 11 2013, 9:10PM

    The number 3 shirt belongs to Harden. ND has selected him as his first choice.

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  • craigben  |  January 11 2013, 8:57PM

    Rupert Harden is officially the first choice tight head at Gloucester Rugby. The sad lonely old multi-identity troll akadau (aka glawsteruk1/peh45/Gordon_P/Kap721/WitneyFoxy/RuckandRoller/GlosRugbyMan/graybaggs/flanker_6 and many many more) hates that. He seriously thought he knew better than the professional coaches at Gloucester and he rubbished Harden right at the beginning of the season (remember that the troll akadau never goes to any Gloucester Rugby games, yet he think himself to be an expert on the players). Harden has gone on to prove the troll akadau to be wrong, and therefore clueless, in game after game this season.

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  • freshhglaws  |  January 11 2013, 8:53PM

    RUPERT HARDEN... Nigel Davies' selection as his first choice tight head. Not second or third but FIRST CHOICE.

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  • CrazyLegs  |  January 11 2013, 8:47PM

    Rupert harden... Our first choice tight head every time when it matters.

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  • kenfarnwood  |  January 11 2013, 8:44PM

    Of the 13 Premiership games, so far this season, Harden has started nine. He has missed the others only because of injury. Nigel Davies, the chap who earns his money from knowing what is what when it comes to rugby union, certainly knows which of his tight-head props is his first choice even if the clueless troll akadau is incapable of understanding that.

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  • corsa_corsa  |  January 11 2013, 8:37PM

    Rupert Harden rules in the tight head position and dominates in the scrum. Let's hope he is fit for the next weekend against Mont de Marsan. We don't want our scrum going backwards, like it did in that final scrum against Saracens, again.

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  • ostronskygreg  |  January 11 2013, 8:31PM

    Without Rupert Harden, our scrum will always be underpowered and will always struggle.

    |   6
  • telwez  |  January 11 2013, 7:40PM

    Rupert Harden is the best tight head at Gloucester Rugby. The fact that that gets right up the nose of the Harden and Gloucester hating multi-ID, troll Kap721, is an added bonus.

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