Six Nations 2013: Jonathan Joseph still eyeing England No13 jersey
Six Nations 2013: London Irish star Jonathan Joseph says he wants the No13 shirt despite falling down the England pecking order
He might have slipped down the England centre pecking order and London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith may have sung his praises at full-back this season – but Jonathan Joseph insists he is not about to turn his back on the No13 shirt any time soon.
Rewind back to June, and Joseph seemingly had the world at his feet having been one of the shining lights in an otherwise difficult England tour of South Africa – coming off the bench in Durban for his debut before starting the next two clashes.
But despite also going on to score two tries in the record 57-26 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham, Joseph was sent back to London Irish while England opened their Six Nations campaign with victory over Scotland on Saturday.
It could very well be his club’s form that is holding him back, the Exiles currently second from bottom in the Aviva Premiership with just three wins to their name.
But Irish have lost just once since the turn of the year, Joseph again proving his versatility during this run by filling in at full-back and scoring a try in victory against Bordeaux Begles.
Exiles chief Smith was full of praise for Joseph’s full-back credentials after this game but the man himself is not about to give up on the England No13 jersey that easily.
“I know I have played at full-back for Irish this season and people have spoken about me playing there but it is not something I have really thought about too much,” said Joseph, who is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Official partner of the RFU
“I think I can play there and I feel quite comfortable there, and on the wing too. And these things are good to have and I think that each position adds something different to my game as well.
“But for me I want to cement down that 13 spot and that is my main focus – nothing else right now.
“Being able to play at 15 obviously helps and it is a good attribute to have but 13 is where I want to be.
“Yes they are a lot of us who want to play in that shirt for England and Stuart Lancaster is not short of options for that spot but that doesn’t mean I will throw in the towel – just the opposite.”
Joseph isn’t wrong when he says Lancaster is spoilt for choice at centre, with the likes of Joseph, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees all putting their hands up – the latter doing so with a debut try against Scotland last time out.
This is a far cry from the 2011 World Cup where England’s centre partnership of Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape came in for criticism, and Joseph insists that while it might be bad news for him it can only be positive when it comes to the Red Rose.
“It was hugely disappointing not to be involved against Scotland,” he added. “It was tough for sure but obviously having players coming through, pushing each other and having that competition in the squad is always good for improving the squad and every individual involved.
“I bring different things than what Billy brings, than what Brad brings and Manu, we all have different attributes to our game so I am just going to try and improve myself and I am sure the other boys are doing that as well.
“Even though it might be frustrating, ultimately I think it is a good thing for England. I think there is a lot of fighting for positions everywhere in the England team now, we are so strong across the board and that is amazing.”