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Stevens out to seize Saxons chance


Matt Stevens

Matt Stevens

Matt Stevens

Saracens prop Matt Stevens will take his first step on the road to an international return - and a potential World Cup place - when he links up with England Saxons on Monday.

Stevens, who played his last Test in November 2008 before serving a two-year drugs ban, has been earmarked to start in his preferred tight-head position in the forthcoming Churchill Cup campaign. The 28-year-old believes he has "every chance" of forcing his way into Martin Johnson's plans for the World Cup, just 12 games into his return to Aviva Premiership rugby with Saracens.

"I am joining up with the Saxons on Monday and I have been told that is a big chance for me to prove myself," Stevens revealed. "Tighthead is my preferred position and that is where they want me to play for the Saxons. The ball is in my court. I have just got to perform well."

Stevens will link up with the Saxons two days after playing for Saracens in the Premiership final against Leicester - and 24 hours after an England XV take on the Barbarians.

Bath-bound lock Dave Attwood is due to start Sunday's non-cap game and, like Stevens, he too has some ground to make up after a stamping ban ruled him out of the RBS 6 Nations.

Attwood had made his Test debut in the autumn against New Zealand but the ban, for an incident against La Rochelle in the Amlin Challenge Cup, was a major setback.

It came just months after Attwood had faced two stamping charges following England's draw with the Australian Barbarians in Perth on the summer tour, but they were thrown out on a technicality.

Attwood insists he is not a dirty player and he is relishing the opportunity to prove to Johnson that he deserves a place in England's 50-man World Cup training squad.

"I don't have a nasty track record. It is not something that has plagued me throughout my career," said Attwood. "I had a run-in in the summer in Australia and again in December. It is something that has come about but it has not been a feature throughout my career so far.

"I am not worried it will creep more into my game. I will just keep on top of it and not step over the mark."

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