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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
England convert happy to face NZ
Mark van Gisbergen
Mark van Gisbergen says he would have no qualms about playing against the All Blacks after being picked in England's 30-man squad for the autumn Tests.

The New Zealand-born full-back could play against his native country in the second of the three November games.

"I'm just pretty excited about playing on the international stage," the Wasps star told BBC Radio Five Live. "I don't really mind who it is against.

"It is a great challenge for me but one I'm greatly looking forward to."

Van Gisbergen qualifies for England through residency rules having spent three seasons playing for champions Wasps.

He was playing provincial rugby with Waikato in New Zealand in 2002 when fellow Kiwi, then Wasps coach Warren Gatland, invited him over to London.

Initially signed as a fly-half, where he has filled in when Alex King has been absent, Van Gisbergen has impressed as an attacking full-back.

He has played a major role in Wasps' dominance of English domestic rugby, winning three consecutive Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup in 2004.

MARK VAN GISBERGEN FACTS
Born: 30/06/77
Weight: 14st
Height: 5' 10"
Previous clubs: Waikato Chiefs, Hamilton Marist
Wasps facts:
Joined: 2002
Three Premiership titles (02/03, 03/04, 04/05)
Heineken Cup (2004)

He scored over 300 points for his club last season and just under 300 the season before.

This season, Van Gisbergen is the top-scorer in the Guinness Premiership with 68 points and has a 96% kicking success record.

He equalled Jonny Wilkinson's record of 28 successful shots in a row against Worcester last weekend before missing his first one of the season.

With Charlie Hodgson likely to start at fly-half against Australia, New Zealand and Samoa in the continued absence of Wilkinson, Van Gisbergen says he would be happy to be given the kicking duties if selected.

"I don't know what they have in mind for me but I enjoy the pressure of kicking," Van Gisbergen added.

"It would be great to try it on the international stage - it would be good fun."

Van Gisbergen's call-up came as no surprise to Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan and head coach Shaun Edwards, who have both been tipping their man for an England place for some time.

"Mark has played in three Premiership finals and a Heineken Cup final. These games prepare players for international rugby, they are the pressure situations," said Edwards.

"He's worked very hard at his rugby since he joined us, particularly on his kicking. He didn't come to us as a kicker, but he has put the hours in to become the player you see now."

McGeechan said: "Mark has reached the point in his career when he is achieving the sort of consistency that is required of an international player, and he is ready for another challenge in another arena."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Mark van Gisbergen


Report: BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson



SEE ALSO
Kiwi at home in Wasps nest
21 May 04 |  European Club
Convert Farrell wins England call
08 Aug 05 |  Internationals


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