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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 07:13 GMT
Narraway shocked at England call
Luke Narraway
Luke Narraway was only called into the original squad due to injuries
Luke Narraway admits that he was "totally shocked" at his inclusion in England's team to face Wales.

The Gloucester back-rower, who has made just 25 Premiership starts, replaces the injured Nick Easter at number eight for the Six Nations opener on Saturday.

"I saw my name on the team sheet when it went up and I had to pinch myself in the team meeting," Narraway said.

"I really wasn't expecting it. I was expecting to maybe play for the Saxons against Ireland A on Friday."

Narraway concedes he owes his opportunity to injuries to others, with Joe Worsley and Tom Croft, as well as Easter, also on the injured list among the original Six Nations squad.

But the 24-year-old son of a butcher, Ian, who played for Worcester, has been in fine form for Gloucester after switching from open-side flanker to number eight in the absence of the injured James Forrester.

On Saturday he will come up against a Wales team that include 13 Ospreys players in their side, opposition he is all too familiar with.


Worcester-born Narraway has played against the star-studded Welsh region twice in the Heineken Cup this season, and was sent to the sin-bin in his side's 35-12 defeat at the Liberty Stadium earlier this month.

"I've played them twice, not for as long as I liked the second time but I'm relishing it," he told BBC Sport.

"I was surprised to see 13 Ospreys players selected, you don't see that too often. They will be in our faces and physically up for it.

"Having so many of the same side in their team will give them a great unity, and they've got a bit of an edge in that department."

Another player set for his debut during Saturday's Six Nations clash is Narraway's Gloucester team-mate Lesley Vainikolo.

I'll feel warm inside and will probably cry but I'll be ready to go

Lesley Vainikolo
Tongan Vainikolo has been named on the bench, but coach Brian Ashton has already indicated he "will be the impact player" on Saturday.

The New Zealand-raised former rugby league star only recently qualified for England through residency and although he is unsure of whether he will sing the national anthem, he is certain it will be an emotional affair.

"It means a lot, all the hard work has been worth it," he said.

"My head will be buzzing, and I don't know if I'll sing but I know I'll feel warm inside and will probably cry but I'll be ready to go.

"I'm here in the squad and it's an honour to wear the England shirt."

Following the recent international retirements of Martin Corry and Lawrence Dallaglio, Wasps flanker James Haskell gets his chance to cement a regular place in England's back row.

Luke Narraway
Luke Narraway was only called into the original squad due to injuries
Haskell, who has two caps to his name, will take Corry's old number six shirt, alongside Lewis Moody at open-side and Narraway at eight.

The 22-year-old made his senior England debut in a defeat to Wales in Cardiff in last year's Six Nations.

And he will confront some familiar faces on Saturday with former Wasps coach Warren Gatland, ex-Wasps scrum-half Rob Howley and current Wasps coach Shaun Edwards all now part of the Wales managerial team.

"Their quality and pedigree speaks for itself and the Welsh are already a fine side but Shaun and Warren will create an even more potent force," Haskell said.

"The first time I played Wales was my debut and I remember the intensity and the physicality they had.

"Hopefully this time I can be more prepared and have more of an impact on the game."

Wales to target Balshaw - Gatland
30 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
England training pictures
29 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Vainikolo spirit lifted by return
21 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Narraway called up by England
29 Jan 08 |  Worcester
Ospreys 32-15 Gloucester
12 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union


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