Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pacy Simpson Will Put His Hot Run to the Test

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pacy Simpson Will Put His Hot Run to the Test

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

PUSH Joe Simpson hard and he will finally admit that only Saracens wing Dave Strettle was quicker when England tested the speed of their top players at the start of this season.

While the London Wasps scrum-half doesn't big himself up, defences all over Europe know about his ability to conjure a try from nothing and Glasgow Warriors will have a special plan to negate this threat in Sunday's critical Heineken Cup match in Scotland.

If Simpson, who was called into the 33-strong England Elite Player squad for the first time this week, can produce another moment of magic and help Wasps to victory, it will set up a winner-takes-all-battle with four-time European champions Toulouse at Adams Park a week later.

Simpson's elevation to the EPS squad is a reward for his refusal to accept that various injuries -- he dislocated his shoulder and damaged his hamstring last season -- had left the 22-year-old too far behind Ben Youngs and Danny Care in the battle for the England No9 jersey.

His England representative careers were spent fighting it out with Harlequins' Care and Leicester's Youngs for the starting position and honours had been pretty even before all three burst onto the Premiership scene.

With Youngs holding the jersey and Care pushing hard to get it back, the Wasps man faces the toughest challenge of his career but, having forced his way into the squad, he has taken a step in possibly overtaking his rivals one day.

Simpson said: "I have a very big smile on my face after making the EPS and now it's up to me to prove I deserve to be there by continuing to perform well for Wasps starting on Sunday which is going to be a hugely difficult match. Ben and Danny have more experience than me but it is pleasing to see that Martin Johnson isn't scared of throwing youngsters in. …

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