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Kvesic leading flanker revival

Matt Kvesic believes classic openside flankers are coming back into fashion in the English game - and Gloucester's new recruit is right at the cutting edge.

A dedicated follower of Richie McCaw's career, Kvesic will make his England debut against an Argentina side expected to challenge ferociously at the breakdown. This is the first time England head coach Stuart Lancaster has employed a specialist fetcher, a player whose style can be compared directly with the likes of McCaw and David Pocock.

Kvesic said: "They are coming back into fashion. In the past, the Premiership was about physical packs that just want to wear each other down with the 10s kicking for the corners. That is changing now. Players are required to be a bit quicker and more mobile. The linking, ball-winning seven fits that."

Tom Rees is arguably the only player since Neil Back who offered England those same qualities but his career was cut cruelly short by injury.

Chris Robshaw has been highly effective for England under Lancaster and against South Africa last summer he dominated the breakdown in both Tests he played. But it was telling that the British and Irish Lions opted not to take Robshaw on tour, preferring the pilfering qualities of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric instead.

Kvesic impressed Lancaster with his performance for England against the Barbarians, when he won a turnover that led to a try for Freddie Burns inside the opening 30 seconds. The Pumas are unlikely to give up possession so easily but Lancaster is convinced the time is right for Kvesic to be given his head - and the 22-year-old is ready for the challenge.

"They are a big physical pack that like to flood the breakdown and to make a mess of it. I just have to beat them to the breakdown without letting them disrupt it," Kvesic said.

"We have got some quality backs like Christian Wade, Jonathan Joseph and Billy Twelvetrees and if you give them ball in space they can be lethal. Chris has been outstanding for the last 18 months. He has played awesome and led the team exceptionally well, which is great.

"This is a huge opportunity for guys like myself. Stuart is trying to create competition and he wants us to make it tough on the guys who are either on Lions duty or being rested.

"I think me playing at seven gives a slightly different option to what Chris would. It gives Stuart the option of how he wants to balance the back row, with a ball-winning seven or a ball-carrying seven."


From Belfast Telegraph