English Rugby
Fourie hits back at England critics
ESPNscrum Staff
July 19, 2011

South African-born England flanker Hendre Fourie has hit out at those critics that have questioned the multi-national nature of the 45-man Rugby World Cup training squad.

England boss Martin Johnson was forced to defend his selection last month after including players from eight different countries in his squad despite the fact there is no question surrounding any of their eligibility. And now Fourie, who won the last of his six caps in this year's Six Nations, has added his own opinion to the debate - stressing that pulling on an England jersey holds just as much significance for him as it does for homegrown players.

"People who criticise just don't understand," the 31-year-old Fourie told the Manchester Evening News. "I've been over here in England for a fifth of my life. I came through National League One and I've done the hard yards. It's not like we've just walked over yesterday into the team. We've been doing the hard graft for several years.

"Yes, I've not been here all my life but I still want to do the best I possibly can when I play for England. When I put that white shirt on with the red rose I want to beat anyone. It means as much to me as any shirt I've ever put on and I want to do my absolute best for the country."

Fourie's place in Johnson's final 30-man squad is by no means certain, despite the flanker appearing for England twice during the Six Nations. England captain Lewis Moody was forced to sit out the Championship through injury while Tigers flanker Tom Croft replaced Fourie on the bench for England's final two matches in the competition. In their place, Tom Wood and James Haskell excelled in the back-row. And Fourie is tipping England to make a big impact at the World Cup regardless of who makes the final 30-man squad for the tournament.

"I can assure you I wouldn't want to play England in the World Cup! People say we are one of the teams to watch out for and, hopefully, we can build on what we've been doing since the autumn of last year," Fourie said. "I think if we do that we can be one of the teams genuinely in contention at the World Cup.

"Whatever happens in terms of who makes the squad, I think that England are going to be really competitive at the World Cup. The coaches are planning really well, everything is so professional and really well structured. Whoever makes the plane to New Zealand I think England can have a massive impact over in New Zealand.

"Of course, I'm desperate to be involved. It's any rugby player's dream to go to a World Cup. I've got this opportunity now so I just need to work hard to try and make sure I get on the plane. I'm going to try everything possible to make sure I do that.

"The three Tests we have in August are going to be crucial. All the guys want to be in the 22 for the games just to get the chance to put up your hand and say 'I'm going to bring you something that the other guy doesn't.' So that's going to be the main focus over the next few weeks."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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