Tim makes Payne-free return
Replacing Andrew Sheridan in the England side does not daunt Tim Payne.
Last Updated: 07/02/08 11:51am
England prop Tim Payne is looking forward to going up against Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni in Rome on Sunday.
Payne has been brought into the team due to Andrew Sheridan's Achilles injury and lines-up against Castrogiovanni, widely regarded as one of the finest tightheads in world rugby.
It completes a total change of fortune for the Wasps prop, who missed the World Cup due to a knee injury that required a full reconstruction.
But Payne returned almost two months ahead of schedule and, after a series of consistent displays the Guinness Premiership, will earn his sixth cap in Rome.
"It is one of the worst injuries you can get, but the physios worked very hard, I worked very hard and I was lucky enough to come back earlier than everyone expected," he said.
"You have got to set yourself goals. I set myself a goal of getting back into the (England) squad, and I knew if you work hard and play to the best of your ability, then hopefully someone is going to watch you.
"I realised as soon as I got off the pitch against Leinster (after suffering the injury) that the World Cup had gone.
"My main aim was to get back playing for my club, and I was lucky enough to be back for the beginning of the season."
Payne admits he has benefited at Wasps from playing alongside former France skipper Raphael Ibanez and current England captain Phil Vickery in the Wasps front-row.
He added: "Raphael, without a shadow of a doubt, is the best hooker I have ever played with.
"You don't get 98 caps for France in that position without being world-class.
"Phil has been there and done it, and he is still doing it. His attitude on and off the field is something I really look up to.
"I am very privileged to play alongside people like Raphael and Phil."