In The England SquadPosted on: 20 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Nick is overjoyed after hearing the news he was hoping for, being named in the full England squad for this summer’s tour to New Zealand.
Last week was, by far and away, the proudest of my rugby career to date.
Martin Johnson, the new England rugby manager named me in the squad to tour New Zealand this summer.
It’s the first time I’ve been selected with the full squad and I’m joined in the party by three of my London Irish team-mates Topsy Ojo, David Paice and Peter Richards.
The last few squads I’ve been picked with the England Saxons which is effectively the England B-team and I felt I’d played well with them; we also won the games which may have helped. I’d also heard whispers and people had been telling me I was tipped for a call-up to the full-squad soon.
Hearing your name banded about is always nice but it’s the manager’s view that counts and I’m delighted Martin has seen something in me that’s good enough for England.
I felt my big chance to impress was when we played Toulouse in the Heineken Cup semi-final. We lost the game and I perhaps was and still am still disappointed with our defeat to recognise my performance that day.
The eyes of Europe would have been on us and it’s fair to say we did ourselves proud as a club, but hopefully I caught Martin’s eye that day.
Being named in a squad picked my Martin is an amazing privilege. He’s a legend of the game, who really drills home the meaning of it.
He’s done it all in the game, domestic trophies, European trophies, international caps, he’s won the world cup, captained his country, toured with the Lions, captained the Lions and had a series win with the Lions - and you simply can’t argue with a CV like that.
Making it all the more special is the fact he played my position. There is a lot more to a second-row than simply being lifted in the line-out and hopefully Martin has recognised that in my game.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of messages and support from friends, family and supporters, I simply can’t thank people enough but from my point of view there is still a lot to do.
I can’t stand back now, be proud of the call-up and take it to the next level.
First of all I need to get myself fit, my foot injury is still niggling at me but I hope to recover soon. As well as that I need to be in great shape for when we all meet up.
Some of the squad are still involved with club duties - the small matter of the Guinness Premiership title is still to be decided so whilst these guys are still in day-to-day training with their clubs, I need to keep myself fit and ready on my own.
In terms of taking things to the next level - I’m delighted to be in the squad but I don’t want to rest on my laurels, I want to train well and fingers crossed, get a game in New Zealand.
To represent your country at any level is special but if I get the opportunity to put the white shirt on in New Zealand it will be extra special.
The All Blacks are a phenomenal side, beating New Zealand in their own back yard is one of the hardest things to do in rugby but we’ll be going there with confidence and belief that we can do it.
There are easier teams and places to go in rugby but we’re all in sport for a challenge and they don’t come bigger than New Zealand.
From school and university rugby, I owe a lot of people a huge amount of thanks for the work they’ve put in to make me the player I am today, but London Irish need a huge thank you.
If it wasn’t for the Academy structure and coaching I received I wouldn’t be where I am, so thanks guys for absolutely everything. The club has performed really well this season and from top to bottom, all the coaches and staff deserve a huge pat on the back for our success.
Nick Kennedy, Monday 19th May, 2008
England face the Barbarians on June 1st before travelling to New Zealand for the first of two tests on June 14th.
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