Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sackey Hopes It Won't Be Toulon before He Comes in from the Cold

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sackey Hopes It Won't Be Toulon before He Comes in from the Cold

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

PAUL SACKEY has views of the beautiful Aix-en-Provence countryside from his home in the hills north of Marseilles. With temperatures touching 16[degrees]C this week, the England wing has packed gloves and thermals along with his Toulon No14 jersey for Sunday's clash with London Irish at a bitterly cold Madejski Stadium.

Freezing hands are just one of the problems Sackey will encounter against a side eager to halt a run of five successive defeats and the former London Wasps flyer is desperate to put on a good show on "home soil".

Having opted to join Jonny Wilkinson and a host of other stars including Australia's George Smith and All Black Carl Hayman in the south of France last summer, Sackey wants to use this Heineken Cup match to remind the England selectors of the speed and clever footwork that brought him 11 tries in 22 Tests.

With national team manager Martin Johnson favouring home-based players, Sackey is aware the odds are stacked against him -- particularly after the improved showing by England last month, when wings Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton consistently impressed.

But Sackey is passionate about representing his country and recognises the opportunity this Pool Three match offers.

The 31-year-old, who won the Heineken Cup with Wasps in 2007, said: "I want to play for England and I came to Toulon to play for an amazing side full of world-class players and learn new things. Hopefully, winning trophies with Toulon and scoring tries will put me back into the thoughts of the England selectors.

"The Heineken Cup is massive for Toulon as this is the first time they have qualified. We are also going well in the Top14 competition and because there are so many players from other countries, playing away isn't the kind of problem people have always suggested it is for French sides. If we have the right mentality we could do really well at Irish but we are all aware of the quality they have and after a few defeats they will want to bounce back."

Having played rugby in London where football is king, Sackey has discovered what it's like to operate in a city where his sport is the heartbeat of the local population. …

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