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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Noon high on England chance
By Jonathon Moore
Rugby Union Editor

Jamie Noon
Name: Jamie Noon
Position: Centre
Age: 24
Club: Newcastle
Test caps: 3
Test debut: 2001 v Canada
Test points 5
There were few positives for coach, Clive Woodward, when his England side were put to the sword by a talented Barbarians outfit last weekend - but Jamie Noon was one of them.

A pacy, hard-running centre, the 24-year-old stood out among his peers as a genuine talent in the Twickenham sunshine.

His efforts have since been rewarded with a place in England's senior squad for their summer tour down under.

Noon's progress owes much to the continuing support of Newcastle coach Rob Andrew, who plucked the young Goole-born player out of the relative obscurity of rugby at Whitby RUFC.

Since that day in 1998, he has won two Hong Kong Sevens titles, three full international caps and appeared for the Barbarians.

And he is clearly relishing the thought of his biggest test to date - against New Zealand Maori on 9 June in New Plymouth.

"I'm so excited to have been included in the squad," Noon told BBC Sport.

"It's been a long hard season and I'm relieved to have made the grade."

"I'm going to be playing against the Maoris and hopefully I can make an impact on the management."

ENGLAND SCHEDULE
9 June: NZ Maori (N Plymouth)
14 June: NZ (Wellington)
21 June: AUS (Melbourne)
23 Aug: Wales (Cardiff)
30 Aug: France (Marseille)
6 Sep: France (Twickenham)
Noon toured with the England squad to North America in 2001, but he admits he has no idea of what to expect when it comes to touring with England's 'big boys'.

"I intend to go open-minded about travelling to New Zealand," Noon said.

"I play with former All Black Mark Mayerhofler and he's given me some tips.

"But he's also warned me that it's going to be the toughest test of my career. So I'm under no illusions about just how hard this is going to be."

The odds on England returning undefeated are slim, despite the senior side's record of 11 successive Test victories.

England have lost six out of seven Tests on New Zealand soil and all 10 previous encounters in Australia.

But Noon remains confident that England will compete.

I'm trying not to think of the World Cup, but of course I want to be involved
Jamie Noon
"We're going out there as the underdogs, there's no doubt about that," Noon said.

"But the atmosphere in the squad is superb. With the World Cup so close, everyone is out to play for their shirt. And I'm no exception.

"I'm trying not to think of the World Cup, but of course I want to be involved. This is a fantastic opportunity for every player and I feel I'm playing quite well.

"The problem is that the competition is so fierce. There are so many players who can or will get picked, that it's impossible to consider.

"I just have to get with my natural game."

Which is?

"Hard running, hard tackling and working 110% for the rest of the team.

"Playing in New Zealand is not a place to hide away and I intend to make my presence felt - no matter who the opponents are."




SEE ALSO
Grewcock out of tour
28 May 03  |  Internationals
Abbott takes aim with England
28 May 03  |  Internationals
Woodward relies on Wasps
28 May 03  |  Internationals
Tuqiri named in Aussie squad
26 May 03  |  Internationals

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