England v Scotland, Six Nations, Twickenham, March 13
No regrets for in-form Palmer
March 8, 2011
Tom Palmer has played a key role in England's three Championship victories thus far © Getty Images
Tom Palmer could easily have been lining out for Scotland at Twickenham this weekend but the England lock is delighted that his decision to commit himself to the land of his birth is finally paying off.
The Stade Francais ace was born in London but attended Boroughmuir High School and represented Scotland at Under-19 and Under-21 level before pledging his allegiance to England.
Palmer made his senior debut against the United States in 2001 but didn't earn his second cap until five years later and it has only been over the past 12 months that he has managed to nail down a regular berth in the England second row.
However, he insists that not once did he feel as if he would have been better off picking Scotland over England.
"It was a decision I made a long time ago and I am very pleased with it. I am looking forward to the game at the weekend and playing for England," Palmer said.
"If I had gone down the Scottish route there would have been lots of legalities because I was born in England and have English parents. I went to school up there. It would have been a residency issue. It might not ever have happened.
"I did not explore it and I have no regrets over that. I always had faith in my own ability, faith I would get in and establish myself and play regularly for England. While at times I did have frustrations, I never wished I had made any other decision."
On the back of wins over Wales, Italy and France, England are now being tipped to record a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003. Indeed, there has been a suggestion that some players are taking a home win over Scotland for granted and are already looking ahead to their final-round showdown with Ireland in Dublin. However, England team manager Martin Johnson is very wary of the threat posed by the Scots.
"For Scotland to come to Twickenham and win would be a big result for them," Johnson said. "It is an easy game for them in a way because everyone is talking about us. They will be desperate to get a win, desperate to win at Twickenham and beat England.
"They will be dangerous and we need to get ourselves at the right level. It would be a big result for us if we can win."
Johnson believes that attitude will be key but he is confident that he has players of the right character to rise to the occasion, revealing that he has been taking some advice from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on how to nurture young talent.
"This is a big, big Test match and we need to be right at our very best and improve from what we did against France," Johnson said. "Arsene Wenger was saying that you need the right characters in the group who will help you win.
"You need guys who want to win, be successful and who are always striving to be better. The younger players we have brought in have the talent skill-wise to play international rugby and they have the desire and the attitude they need to go from good players to become world-class players. You can't give that to them, that part of their personality has to be there.
"The young guys we've got are not here for fame or fortune, they are here because they want to be successful rugby players and to play well for England. It sounds a very simple thing. But you need those type of personalities in the squad and I think we've got quite a few there now."
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