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Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 16:22 UK

Ojo ready to seize England chance

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 14 June Kick-off: 0835 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, Text commentary on BBC Sport website

Topsy Ojo celebrates a try for London Irish
Ojo scored five tries for London Irish last season

Topsy Ojo says he cannot wait for Saturday and the biggest match of his career so far.

The London Irish wing will make his England debut in the first of the two Tests against New Zealand in Auckland.

"There's probably no harder place to come and play but you only get a few chances like this in your lifetime," Ojo told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"To have my first Test in New Zealand is awesome. I'm really looking forward to it," added the 22-year-old.

At the start of the season Ojo, a former England Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 representative, was an outside bet for full England recognition.

Before Christmas he struggled to find his way to the try-line and it was not until March that he crossed in either the Guinness Premiership or Heineken Cup.

We know we've got a really big challenge ahead of us but these are the games you play for - it doesn't really get better than this

England lock Tom Palmer

But he had a superb second half of the campaign, ending with five tries overall and three in the last three games of the Exiles' season.

An electric performance in the Heineken Cup semi-final defeat by Toulouse was a stand-out performance, and he admitted "it's been a bit of a whirlwind three months".

Ojo will line up against All Blacks try-machine Sitiveni Sivivatu, who has 22 tries in 22 Tests for New Zealand, in Auckland on Saturday, but insists he is not feeling intimidated.

"I've been watching him for the last couple of years and obviously he's a fantastic winger," said Ojo. "His try-scoring rate is phenomenal and it'll be a great challenge for me.

"If I'm to hopefully keep playing international rugby for the next few years I need to test myself against these guys and I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

Wasps second row Tom Palmer, who won his first England cap back in 2001 but has only eight to his name, will play his first Test since the 2007 Six Nations on Saturday.


With the likes of Wasps team-mate Simon Shaw resting for the summer, Palmer has edged out fellow tourists Ben Kay and Nick Kennedy to partner tour captain Steve Borthwick at Eden Park.

"I'm really pleased to have been selected. If you look at the other guys and how well they've been playing it obviously says quite a bit that I've been given the nod, so I'm very happy with that," he told Radio 5 Live.

"It's good to get another chance with England."

New Zealand warmed up for the game with a 22-11 win over Ireland on Saturday and despite having lost a number of big names such as Carl Hayman and Luke McAlister after they decided to play rugby in Europe, they remain a massive force in the game.

"They definitely played really well against Ireland," said Palmer.

"We know we've got a really big challenge ahead of us but these are the games you play for, the big games against the top sides in their backyard. It doesn't really get better than this."

see also
Easter ruled out of England tour
08 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 21-11 Ireland
07 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
England 17-14 Barbarians
01 Jun 08 |  English
Borthwick proud to lead England
13 May 08 |  English
Borthwick to lead England in NZ
13 May 08 |  English

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