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Robson hails youthful flair

England must continue their new injection of youth and attacking impetus to thrive in the long-term, according to Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson.

The Cherry and Whites half-back is one of four Aviva Premiership stars making their debut in the England Saxons backline to face Scotland A in Glasgow on Friday.

Fiji-born British Army tank driver and Bath flyer Semesa Rokoduguni, his club-mate Kyle Eastmond and Leicester speed man Adam Thompstone complete the new faces behind the scrum.

Robson hailed Stuart Lancaster for promoting Exeter's Jack Nowell and Gloucester team-mate Jonny May into England's RBS 6 Nations starting line-up to face France in Paris on Saturday.

The 21-year-old hopes Lancaster will expand his revised attacking blueprint still further, to capitalise on England's depth of free-running talent.

"I think you've seen changes already with the squad Stuart's picked for the weekend, there's a lot of young lads in there, Jack Nowell and Jonny May," Robson told Press Association Sport.

"There's a lot of flair and attacking power there.

"So the whole set-up is moving in that direction and that's extremely encouraging.

"We want to play with width and pace at Gloucester, we want to get the ball to our danger men.

"And the more England mirror that, hopefully the more opportunities that will give for players from the club."

World Cup-winner Mike Tindall and Gloucester's rugby director Nigel Davies have been tipping Robson for England recognition since midway through last season.

The England Under-20s graduate makes no secret of his long-term ambitions to crack head coach Lancaster's full squad.

But Robson admits the Saxons must be far cannier in possession on Saturday than in last weekend's 14-8 Ireland Wolfhounds defeat at Kingsholm.

"Hopefully this can be a start for me," said Robson.

"You want to push into the squad regularly and show what you can do.

"Ideally long-term you want to push onto bigger and better things though to be fair.

"You look outside you and see the firepower and you just want to get the ball out there as quickly as possible."

Hooker Dave Ward might not fit the Saxons' profile of youth and raw pace, but the 28-year-old would not swap his seven-year journey.

The former Cornish Pirates stalwart made his first Premiership start in seven years for Harlequins earlier this term.

His breakthrough at Bath in 2005 was all too brief, and a later spell at Sale Sharks was beset by injury.

Cornish Pirates came to the rescue in 2009 when Ward flirted dangerously with throwing in the towel, and three years later he won a move back to the top-flight with Quins.

Ward feels his route into the England set-up shows just as it can never come too soon, it can also never be too late.

"It's been a combination of luck and hard work to get back," Ward said.

"I'd be playing rugby whether it was amateur, semi-pro or whatever.

"So the chance to do it at a level like this is fantastic.

"The Pirates gave me a great chance at an important time, and then Harlequins have followed that up too.

"So I'd like to keep repaying both those clubs.

"It did cross my mind to retire at times, but when you still think there's a shred of opportunity, you've got to go for it."

Scotland A coach Shade Munro has handed the captaincy to 19-year-old Jonny Gray, backing the Glasgow lock to lead by example in a pack containing 48-cap back-rower Ally Hogg.

"It's fantastic for Jonny Gray, he's only 19 and he's captaining a senior Scottish national team," said Munro.

"He has played particularly well this season and deserves all the accolades given to him."


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