Varndell to take his chance
Tom Varndell is determined not to mess up his second chance with England after he was recalled to face New Zealand in the second Test.
Last Updated: 20/06/08 3:03pm
Tom Varndell is determined not to mess up his second chance with England after the Leicester wing was recalled to face New Zealand in the second Test.
It has been two years since Varndell last appeared for England - and it has been a long road back since he was handed out a brutal lesson by Australia winger Lote Tuqiri in the disastrous tour in 2006.
To rub salt into Varndell's wounds, he found himself farmed out on loan to National One side Bedford six weeks after his return from international duty.
Now, having re-established himself as one of the Premiership's deadliest finishers, Varndell wants to exorcise the ghosts of 2006.
"Things did happen very quickly for me and a lot of hot air was blown up my a***. At 19, I think it went to my head a bit. I hit the ground with a thump in Australia," Varndell said.
"Tuqiri scalded me. It wasn't very pleasant. But the lowest point was being loaned out to a division one club just a month and a half after an England tour.
"It was pretty embarrassing. I was there for a couple of weeks and then got injured. My last game for Bedford was Waterloo away. It was absolutely brutal. I don't think there were even 300 people there.
"Leicester thought I needed a kick up the backside and that is what I got.
"I had been put on the international stage and I didn't perform. With all the other wingers coming through I did think my chance had come and gone.
"But I am lucky enough to get the opportunity again and it is not an opportunity I am going to waste.
"I wouldn't say it that learning curve was enjoyable but it was an experience I had to go through."
Having been bullied and bruised by Tuqiri on his last appearance, Varndell will be handed a tougher test against All Blacks powerhouse Sitiveni Sivivatu, who has an enviable record of 23 tries in 23 Tests.
But Varndell is ready to silence Sivivatu and the critics in Christchurch.
"He is a good player! Those stats speak for themselves. He is a fantastic finisher," Varndell said.
"They have some fantastic backs and it will be a massive challenge - but I have had two years out of the England team and I want to go and play the best I can possibly play.
"They have been slating us all week in the press and we have a point to prove."