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Ryan backs Pennell to flourish

Chris Pennell can crack England's 2015 Rugby World Cup squad from a season of Championship rugby, according to Worcester boss Dean Ryan.

Ryan is adamant Worcester will not allow star asset Pennell to go on loan to an Aviva Premiership club next season.

The Warriors rugby director will coach the Barbarians against an England XV at Twickenham on Sunday, but backed Pennell to thrive in New Zealand with Stuart Lancaster's senior side.

Worcester full-back Pennell could win his first cap in England's first Test in Auckland on Saturday, June 7, and Ryan believes the 27-year-old is ready for international action.

"He's capable of playing Test rugby; I have no doubts at all," said Ryan.

"I know he could go in and play Test rugby tomorrow and not one of us would flinch over it.

"And that's huge testament to him, given the environment he's been in all his life, and he's just starting to flourish now at 27.

"I wouldn't have any concerns about him playing in New Zealand.

"He's got a three-week tour, he'll grow enormously just by being around the group that England has, and who knows, if you're one step off a Test match in New Zealand next week, anything can happen.

"I think he needs a bit of luck over the next few weeks, if we're thinking about long-term things like the World Cup."

England will start their three-Test All Blacks series without the Saracens and Northampton contingent in action in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.

Ryan said Worcester-born Pennell must seize his big Test chance this summer to establish a foothold in head coach Lancaster's long-term plans.

"If you look at the squad, he looks pretty certain to be on the bench looking at those back-three players for the first Test," said Ryan.

"So I'd imagine they'd use him as cover for back-three and potentially move Mike Brown to wing, it looks the only option with the group they have out there.

"So if you're that close to the England team you just need a bit of luck, or someone's bad luck, one or the other.

"Plenty of people start their career on that basis.

"Brown and Alex Goode have been outstanding and he's probably quite unfortunate to be in one of the hotly-contested positions.

"But he has a real chance now, and the rest is up to him."

Scotching talk Pennell could be sent on loan after Worcester's Premiership relegation, Ryan said the accomplished full-back is fully committed to the Sixways club for next season.

"Championship rugby won't damage his England chances," said Ryan on Pennell, who signed a new three-year Worcester deal in December.

"This is the first year he's flourished enough to be on England's radar, despite the team's results.

"He's flourished in England's camp too, and I always knew he would.

"I'm confident he can continue to thrive at the club - and we wouldn't farm him out next year simply on the off chance that Brown or Goode might fall over.

"The environment we've created helped put him on the England radar, and we intend to help him stay there.

"The only talk of a loan was when someone asked the question.

"It's not something we've discussed or explored, and we never would.

"Chris has never asked for that, he signed his three-year deal with every intention of staying, knowing the risks with where we have been as a club."

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