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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 16:14 GMT
Smith confident of Hodgson debut
Paul Hodgson
Hodgson was man-of-the-match against Leicester Tigers on Sunday
London Irish coach Brian Smith thinks scrum-half Paul Hodgson will make his England debut against France in Paris.

Hodgson was named on the England bench for Saturday's game, with Richard Wigglesworth starting at scrum-half.

"I'm quite a fan of playing two scrum-halves in a match and try to keep the tempo for the full 80 minutes," Smith told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"I can see a situation where at the 50 or 60 minute mark, Paul Hodgson will make his debut for England."

And Smith believes 25-year-old Hodgson will not be fazed by playing France.

He's there on merit and people should step back now, admire the talent and let him go

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith

"He's played 100 senior games for the club - that's a lot of high-level rugby. We're not talking about a kid any more," said Smith.

"He's mature, he's one of the senior players at London Irish and he always provides a lot of leadership when he's on the pitch supporting Bob Casey."

Hodgson was called into the England Six Nations squad in January, when Irish team-mate Peter Richards withdrew due to injury.

And Smith paid tribute to Hodgson's attitude at London Irish this season, after the high-profile signing of Richards last summer.

606: DEBATE

"To Paul's credit, when he knew that Pete Richards was coming to the club and I sat down and explained to him why, that I wanted two quality nines, he said 'that's fine, it'll make me a better player and I fully support it.'

"His attitude has been brilliant. He certainly set about improving himself as a player and he's got his just rewards now.

"He's there on merit and people should step back now, admire the talent and let him go."

SEE ALSO
Wigglesworth handed England call
19 Feb 08 |  English


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