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Gustard backs Fraser for England

Saracens' uncapped flanker Will Fraser still has time to break into the England squad for Rugby World Cup 2015, according to Paul Gustard.

Fraser has returned to full fitness after nine months battling foot and ankle ligament damage, packing on muscle during his recovery.

The 24-year-old was pushing for a breakthrough to Stuart Lancaster's full England squad when injury struck last November.

Gloucester's Matt Kvesic is England captain Chris Robshaw's main competition at openside flanker, but Saracens defence coach Gustard has backed fit-again Fraser to force his way into the reckoning.

"Will without doubt has the potential to be an England player and hopefully he will be before next year's World Cup," Gustard told Press Association Sport.

"Will Fraser is as good as anybody else out there in my opinion.

"And he's proven that in the short glimpses we've seen of him in the last two or three seasons.

"He's had a dreadful time with injuries, but he's worked unbelievably hard and is now in great shape.

"Will's level-headed enough as are all our players, to know the steps he needs.

"If he plays well for Saracens and does the right things by Saracens then he will get opportunities with England.

"If he looks too far ahead, with one eye on the goal you'll only have one eye on the path and will come unstuck.

"Everyone has to remain focused on Saracens and doing well for us.

"The door's always open for England, if you're playing well then they can't turn you down.

"They're definitely not going to cut their nose off to spite their face.

"I firmly believe he will play for England and I think he's got a good chance of doing that at the World Cup."

Saracens launch their Aviva Premiership season by taking on Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday, facing London rivals Harlequins and London Irish inside the campaign's opening month.

Gustard believes Fraser's increased muscle mass can help him excel in club action this term, while still learning from relentless Namibia skipper Jacques Burger.

"It's brilliant having Will back, he's a great personality, he's a Saracen from day one," said Gustard.

"The club means a lot to him: it's part of his fabric.

"The kid that arrived in the academy weighing 93kilos is now standing here at 110: he's abrasive, aggressive, very strong and he's got the bit between his teeth.

"We're very blessed that we've got another pretty ferocious openside in Jacques Burger, who goes all right by the way.

"And we've got the England Under-20s openside Matt Hankin that we're also expecting big things from.

"They are all cut from the same cloth, tough, aggressive and a bit mad like most sevens.

"And we're very fortunate that we've got two of the best sevens in the league currently in the Premiership with Will and Jacques, and then Matt coming through in the next 18 months who will prove to be a very fine Premiership player."

Saracens spent eight days in Chicago during pre-season, mixing hard graft with a visit to the Lollapalooza music festival.

Gustard admitted letting off steam to the likes of Kings of Leon and Calvin Harris helped ease lingering frustrations from last term's Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership final defeats.

Two pivotal Television Match Official decisions swung the Premiership final, an Owen Farrell score chalked off before Alex Waller's try sealed Northampton's 24-20 extra-time victory over Saracens.

Premiership officials have not overhauled the Television Match Official regulations, leaving Gustard calling on Saracens to shelve any continued objection.

"All we can do is get on with it," said Gustard.

"Of course it was hugely disappointing how last season ended, especially in terms of those decisions.

"But it's been well-documented and we move on.

"Chicago was incredibly tough, but also great fun and we had an epic time at Lollapalooza.

"It's one of the biggest music festivals in the world, and helped bring us closer together."


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