England tour of New Zealand: Chris Pennell delighted by international call-up
Last Updated: 27/05/14 2:21pm
Chris Pennell is ready to seize his opportunity in Stuart Lancaster’s England's squad for the first Test against New Zealand to launch his international career.
England will be without as many as many as 15 Saracens and Northampton Saints players for the first Test due to their involvement in the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday.
The IRB ruled the May 31 final falls within their definition of June, forcing England to start their three-Test series against the All Blacks a week earlier than anticipated.
However, uncapped Worcester full-back Pennell is among the few aiming to profit from the misfortune and he is keen to establish a Test presence against the reigning champions.
"I've got no complaints about the way the end of the season has shaped out personally," said Pennell, who could make his debut in Auckland.
"It's an opportunity for me and that's how most players get their chance - through someone else not being available, be it through injury or fixture clashes. So I'm hoping it's my time for that.
"I need to keep showing improvements in training and give a good account of myself, and whether opportunity comes in the first Test or even at all I don't know yet.
"But I'll certainly make sure I'm in a position where I'm ready to take my chance. Now that I've been given the plane ticket, I need to make sure I do something with it."
Head coach Lancaster led an initial 30-man squad including seven uncapped stars jetting south on Tuesday, with a follow-up group to be confirmed on June 2.
Pennell believes winning his first international call-up despite suffering Premiership relegation with Worcester indicates the "refreshing changes" Lancaster has made to the England set-up.
"I am delighted: it's obviously been a season of mixed emotions, but to finish it in this way means a huge amount and I'm really excited about this opportunity,” he added.
"It's quite a refreshing change in essence from the England coaches, Stuart having come through with Leeds.
I am delighted: it's obviously been a season of mixed emotions, but to finish it in this way means a huge amount and I'm really excited about this opportunity.
“He knows what it's like to be at a club that aren't necessarily always fighting at the top end of the table.”
Pennell, who has previously toured New Zealand with Old Swinford Hospital School in 2004, is ready to stake his claim should he be presented the opportunity.
"If I'm going to get chucked into the international arena, it may as well be against the best side in the world," he claimed.
"It's a huge challenge and a huge opportunity. I just can't wait to get back out there.
"You have to rely a lot on instinct. At club level I guess I've had more time in training to think things through, evaluate what next. But the speed at which things are done here, you don't always have time.
"I need to just play with my head up and play with a bit of instinct, which isn't easy to do at times, but again it's something I've really relished and enjoyed."