Hape out to impress against Georgia
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."