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Sharples facing long road back

Charlie Sharples admits he still has an uphill struggle to force his way back into the full-time England reckoning.

The Gloucester wing was omitted from both England's Elite Player Squad and the Saxons line-ups for the RBS 6 Nations schedule.

The four-cap flyer has seen younger wings like Christian Wade, Marland Yarde, club-mate Jonny May and now Exeter's Jack Nowell overtake him in head coach Stuart Lancaster's pecking order.

Sharples has not featured for England since autumn 2012, but was thrust back into the Saxons squad this week after injury to Wasps finisher Tom Varndell.

The 24-year-old is excited by a chance to prove himself again when the Saxons host Ireland Wolfhounds at his club ground Kingsholm on Saturday.

Hong Kong-born Sharples is well aware he remains a late injury call-up, not a full-time Saxons squad member.

"It doesn't change my focus: despite all this I'm still not named in the Saxons squad, I'm still not named in the EPS," said Sharples.

"So I've got everything to play for, in a couple of weeks I'll be back at my club again and I'll have to just be focusing ahead to trying to stake a claim for the New Zealand tour with a few good months of rugby for Gloucester.

"If that happens, great, if not, you just have to look towards your next target.

"It was and it wasn't, hard to see others move ahead of me, because I understand it.

"If I was a young winger playing well, carving up for my team, I would hate to think 'why aren't I getting a chance, just because someone else was playing well a year ago or six months ago?'

"You have to pick players on form and I don't think I'm a worse player than I was a couple of years ago, in fact I think I'm a better player.

"Rugby is swings and roundabouts: you see how much things can change in a week.

"Sometimes you just have to take your medicine, you can't sulk about it, and if things aren't going your way, you can't point fingers, you just have to do what you can, and accept there will always be disappointments in any career."

Sharples admits his form this season has not warranted an England call.

Gloucester swatted five tries past Perpignan in France last weekend to rediscover some fluency and secure an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final though.

Now Sharples hopes he can help bring about a club resurgence to push him back into England boss Lancaster's thoughts.

"If it was easy playing for England everyone would do it," he said.

"I've been fortunate to have been around that mix for a few years now. Unfortunately I haven't been able to kick on and cement a starting position.

"Winning four caps is a big achievement, but at the same time I'm not content with that and I want to push on."


From Belfast Telegraph