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Hape out to impress against Georgia


Shontayne Hape

Shontayne Hape

Shontayne Hape

Shontayne Hape is determined to make his mark on the Rugby World Cup after being selected to start in England's Pool B showdown with Georgia on Sunday.

The London Irish centre replaces Mike Tindall, a decision based on Martin Johnson's squad rotation plans. Hape was one of the players in the Altitude Bar last Sunday night enjoying a team social, sanctioned by the management, which has hit the headlines but the former New Zealand rugby league star is determined not to let the brouhaha become a distraction ahead of his World Cup debut.

"I am looking to stamp my mark on this World Cup," he said. "What has happened has happened. It is a distraction that is trying to take us away from focusing on our main point while we are here, which is rugby."

He added: "We can't get drawn into things that have been happening or people who are making stories up.

"This is a big game and we owe it to ourselves and all our fans to go out there and put in a good performance.

"I am itching to get out there. Toby Flood and I have trained well together this week and I am looking for a big performance.

"Last week was frustrating, watching the game against Argentina. This week is our chance."

England opened their campaign with a hard-fought 13-9 victory over the Pumas and can expect another battle royale with the physical Georgians, who have a point to prove.

Georgia failed to establish the scrum dominance everyone expected against Scotland on Wednesday night and eventually slipped to a 15-6 defeat.

"These guys are up for this game because they are so disappointed with themselves. I can tell you they are so disappointed with their display against Scotland," Georgia head coach Richie Dixon said. "England will understand that they have to perform."