Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Noon Relishing His Biggest Test

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Noon Relishing His Biggest Test

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Jamie Noon faces one of the biggest tests of his England career when he lines up against Ireland ( and Brian O'Driscoll ( in tomorrow's RBS Six Nations Championship showdown at Lansdowne Road.

The 25-year-old Falcon partners Olly Barkley again in the England midfield after being given a vote of confidence by head coach Andy Robinson but he knows he needs to perform against the man tipped to lead the British Lions this summer.

Sitting on the bench is Leicester's Ollie Smith and both Barkley and Noon know they need to perform otherwise Smith will be coming on.

"I've played against O'Driscoll twice before," said Noon. "Once in the Heineken Cup and once when he played for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham last summer, but it's not so much about an individual's defence, me against him, it's more about the way the team perform defensively.

"It's a bit like when you play against Jason Robinson. He is very effective in attack and you have to defend together. If our defence is clever and streetwise and works well together then we should perform well.

"There are people inside and outside me and we have got to make sure we are all in the right positions so that if he steps me then someone else is making the tackle."

Noon is under no illusions about where he stands but feels he is in the side on merit and added: "I had a lot of doubters after we played Wales and it's always hard when people don't agree with the selection.

"I was happier with the way I played against France and took one step closer to proving what I am about."

England start in the rare position of underdogs and normally that would take the pressure off. But so much is expected of England as world champions that the knives are already being sharpened. They are nought from two while Ireland are two from two. …

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