A Break Before International Training

Posted on: 23 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

After being named in the full England squad, Nick looks ahead to what will be a challenging month.

I'm finally getting over what has been one of the best weeks of my life.

Last Tuesday I walked into the London Irish training ground to be given news by my London Irish coach Toby Booth that I'd been picked in Martin Johnson's first England squad, an amazing privilege for me.

As the dust began to settle, my first thoughts turned to see who else had been picked in the squad, especially at the second row position to give me an idea of who I'm up against.

Steve Borthwick has been named captain for the tour, he's had an excellent season with Bath so one of the two second row positions will already be filled, leaving me to fight it out with Wasps' Tom Palmer and Leicester's Ben Kay and Tom Croft.

They're three outstanding players so it will be very tough but I'm hopeful of making an impression.

I've been given my itinerary and on Monday I'll be heading off to Bath for a week of solid training in preparation for the match against the Barbarians next Sunday.

I imagine I'll be playing some part in that game so it's all in my hands in terms of putting in a performance. I'll be keen to impress and hopefully do enough to earn a place in the match squad for the first test in New Zealand.

It will be the first time I've been to Twickenham to play rugby for England and that in itself is pretty special to me. I'm really looking forward to it and just keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well.

The Barbarians are a special rugby side and for this game, the squad they have picked is full of world class rugby players.

It won't be easy at all but it will be great to test myself against some of the names and set my marker down early.

I've been working very hard at certain aspects of my game, really concentrating on elements that I wouldn't have in the past and hopefully that's been noticed by the England set-up.

As I've said before, playing for England at any time is a special feeling but being picked by Martin Johnson makes things all the more sweeter.

We fly out to New Zealand in around two weeks time but at the moment I'm focusing on the Barbarians game before looking ahead to the All Blacks.

Since the squad was announced, I've come out of the air cast on my injured foot and I've been able to start training again.

I've done a few weights, been on the cycling machine and had two days of running fitness work. I'm still icing my foot after every session as it still is a little painful after but I was pleased to be pain-free when running again.

At the start of the week, I went to Spain with a couple of the rugby lads for a relaxing trip away.

We were only there for a few days but it was nice to get some sun, lounge about by the pool and recharge some batteries after a long season. We had a good laugh as per usual and that will have to do for my summer holiday for the time being - that's not a complaint, just an observation.

Holidays can always wait when you've the chance to represent your country just round the corner.

I'll sit down and watch the Heineken Cup final this weekend, no doubt watching and thinking "what if" when I see Toulouse taking to the field.

But both Munster and Toulouse have proved their class throughout the season and it makes for an exciting encounter in Cardiff, I'm not really sure who to cheer for so I'll just have to stick to my guns and be a neutral observer.

I've a tough week ahead of me so I'll be making sure I'm in a good condition for Monday by taking it easy this weekend and preparing for my first full England training session next week.

Nick Kennedy, 23rd May 2008

England face the Barbarians on Sunday, 1st June, at Twickenham before travelling to New Zealand for the first of two tests on 14th June.

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