Mullan named in England squad to face New Zealand

Matt Mullan has been named on the bench for this Saturday’s QBE International against New Zealand at Twickenham.

The England side will feature three uncapped players, with Semesa Rokoduguni named to start and George Kruis and Anthony Watson on the bench. England will be back at Twickenham for the first time since playing Wales in March and Mullan says that, aside from facing the best side in world rugby, playing at home is always special.

“Regardless of who you play, playing at Twickenham, a home game for England focuses the mind anyway. A sold out Twickenham is an unbelievable experience and you never want to be below par in front of a big home crowd. The fact that it is New Zealand and we played them three times in the summer maybe adds to it but whoever it was at Twickenham, the first game of the Autumn Internationals means it’s important to play well and try to get a good result in front of the Twickenham crowd.”

Mullan is one of three Wasps who have been a part of the England camp in the lead up to the first game of the QBE Internationals but, with Joe Launchbury ruled out through injury and James Haskell returning to the Club, Mullan is the sole Wasps representative in this weekend’s squad. 

“Camp has been really good. We had a tough few days last week, with no game at the weekend we got through quite a bit of training. This week has been all about New Zealand and preparing for the game this weekend.”

“You don’t tend to know what the team is until about lunchtime on a Tuesday. Up until then everybody is training thinking that they have a chance of making the side. You do most of the work as a big squad. Once the squad is narrowed down and the ten or so guys go back to their clubs, it is just narrowing down the finer details really. Everybody realises that it is a group effort to make the final selection work on the weekend.”

This year’s QBE Internationals take on an extra importance, with less than a year to go until the World Cup in 2015. Mullan says that is in the back of everybody’s minds.

“Everybody is aware that it is a big year but anything can happen between now and the World Cup. There’s the rest of the season to play, a whole summer to get through. As a player it is about staying fit and performing week-in-week-out. We all saw from delaying the EPS announcement how competitive the Aviva Premiership has been in the first six rounds. Everybody is trying to put a marker down and everybody knows that there is a lot to play for. You have to play as well as you can every week, whether it is for your Club or country, trying to be the best you can be. Hopefully making the World Cup squad will take care of itself. It is definitely in the back of everyone’s mind but you can’t think too far ahead.”

England (v New Zealand, QBE International, Saturday, November 8, 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports HD)

15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 29 caps)
14 Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
13 Brad Barritt (Saracens, 18 caps)
12 Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 7 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 25 caps)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 48 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 22 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 57 caps)
3 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 37 caps)
4 Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 32 caps)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 30 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 28 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 10 caps)

Replacements
16 Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
17 Matt Mullan (Wasps, 5 caps)
18 Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
19 George Kruis (Saracens, uncapped)
20 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 23 caps)
21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
22 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)
23 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, uncapped)