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Johnson backs Kiwi Hape call-up

Martin Johnson yesterday defended his decision to pick former New Zealand rugby league international Shontayne Hape for England's RBS 6 Nations campaign.

The 28-year-old qualified to play for England on residency grounds this month and Johnson wasted no time in parachuting the Bath centre straight into the squad, ahead of Shane Geraghty or Dominic Waldouck.

Hape won 14 international caps for the Kiwis before making his cross-code switch from Bradford Bulls to Bath in 2008. He joins Riki Flutey and Dylan Hartley as the third New Zealand-born player in the England squad.

Johnson defended his call-up, saying: “It is what the players do when they are here, how they handle themselves, how they train, how they play and the commitment they have to that team.”

England's revised 32-man senior elite player squad for RBS 6 Nations Championship: FORWARDS: S Armitage (London Irish), S Borthwick (Saracens), J Crane (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Stade Francais), C Lawes (Northampton), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), T Payne (Wasps), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), S Thompson (CA Brive), J White (Leicester), D Wilson (Bath).

BACKS: D Armitage (London Irish), C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), D Care (Harlequins), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), H Ellis (Leicester), T Flood (Leicester), B Foden (Northampton), R Flutey (CA Brive), S Hape (Bath), D Hipkiss (Leicester), P Hodgson (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins), M Tait (Sale Sharks), J Wilkinson (Toulon).

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