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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Thursday, 20 January 2011

Leeds Carnegie's Fourie backed for England success

Hendre Fourie
Fourie won his first England cap against New Zealand

Leeds and England hooker Steve Thompson believes team-mate Hendre Fourie will excel in the Six Nations.

Fourie is expected to become England's first choice open-side flanker for the competition, after captain Lewis Moody suffered knee ligament damage.

"I played with Budge Pountney at Northampton, who is a world-class seven, and I'd put Hendre up there too," Thompson told BBC Radio Leeds.

"Hendre is awesome. He is one of the best players I've ever played with."

South Africa-born Fourie won his first four caps for England during the Autumn internationals, coming on as a substitute in three matches and starting against Samoa.

With Moody expected to miss the first three Six Nations matches, Fourie is the only recognised open-side flanker in Martin Johnson's squad.

Thompson added: "I think he would thrive on the added pressure and responsibility [of being the first-choice seven].

If Lewis wasn't captain I think Hendre would have been the first choice flanker [for England]

Neil Back on Hendre Fourie

"When we played down at Bath a few weeks ago, Shrek [Fourie] played Lewis off the field. He was outstanding on the day.

"He does what he does. If you want someone to win you ball, he is going to do that.

"He wins his tackles and is one of the hardest players I've ever played with. He is just getting better and better too.

"He is one of those players who people were talking about, saying how good he was.

"In pre-season people were saying 'wait until you play with Shrek, he's awesome'.

"You always hear that at clubs, you turn up and people are blowing smoke up their backside. But he really is that good. You see him out there and he is awesome."

Fourie has also received support from his Leeds head coach Neil Back, and although he is delighted that Fourie is getting a chance to shine, Back has also expressed his disappointment for his former Leicester and England team-mate Moody.

"The build-up to the Six Nations is a critical point, so to lose your captain is a big blow. But I think England have the strength in depth, particularly in the back-row," said Back.

"If Lewis wasn't captain I think Hendre would have been the first choice flanker because of the performance he put in at Bath a few weeks ago, when Hendre out-played Lewis.

"It is a shame for Lewis. He is a fantastic player, has matured a lot and is a lot more level headed now and still leads from the front with unique qualities.

"So he will be missed but England have the strength to cope with that."

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see also
England suffer Moody injury blow
18 Jan 11 |  English
Bath 16-13 Leeds
08 Jan 11 |  English
Fourie living the England dream
09 Nov 10 |  Leeds

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