England v Samoa, Twickenham, November 20
Palmer: An exciting time for England
November 16, 2010
Tom Palmer believes that England are entering an exciting phase © Getty Images
England lock Tom Palmer has admitted that Saturday's victory over Australia left him wishing he was five years younger.
The Stade Francais second-row, 31, believes that England may have turned a corner with their thrilling 35-18 Twickenham win and is envious of the young guns that have created a feel-good factor around the national side.
"Now is a really exciting time to be involved with England," he said. "After the game I was thinking 'I wish I was five years younger'. I was sitting with Courtney Lawes at the dinner and I was a little bit envious that he is 21 and getting established in the team and it has taken me until I am 31 to do so.
"This team has an enormous amount of potential. We have seen the work we have been doing over the last six months really starting to bear fruit. If we keep playing the way we are playing now I think we can be a really good side.
"The aim of the team is to always keep improving. That is where you have to be as a great side, you can't take anything for granted. We have put three quite good performances together in a row now but we have two more tough challenges, against Samoa and South Africa. Then the Six Nations. The challenge is to keep playing how we played last weekend. It is an exciting time to be in this squad because I think we have got the ability to keep on doing that."
On a personal level, Palmer produced a top-drawer display against the Wallabies and is feeling secure about his place in the side for the first time in an international career that began in 2001.
"That was probably my best performance for England but that is what you need at this level," he said. "After putting in a good performance last week against Australia and a pretty decent performance the week before against New Zealand, I'm feeling fairly secure I suppose.
"You can't ever rest on your laurels because there's no such thing as a perfect game. I'm pleased with how my Test career is going. I've finally got a run of games under my belt."
Palmer's 2008 move to Paris signalled the beginning of a period on the outer of the England setup as former skipper Steve Borthwick commanded the No.5 jersey but he believes that the switch has turned him into a better player.
"I was a bit despondent, frustrated at times when I wasn't getting picked but I thought I was playing well," he said. "The fact the captain [Borthwick] was in my position was something that made it harder for me to get into the side.
"I was a bit philosophical about it. I had the whole new challenge of moving to France, a big new chapter in my life. I thought: 'There is nothing I can do to change their minds except for working hard and keep plugging away. If it comes, it comes. If not I have played some international rugby, I have got some caps and I am enjoying living where I am'. I got my chance when two guys got injured in quick succession and when you get those opportunities you have to take them."
Meanwhile, England manager Martin Johnson has retained his 22-man squad for Saturday's meeting with Samoa, also calling in wing Matt Banahan, flanker James Haskell and lock Dave Attwood. Anthony Allen, George Chuter, Tim Payne, Joe Worsley, Riki Flutey, Dominic Waldouck, David Strettle and Paul Doran-Jones have been released for club duty.
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