Shontayne Hape to join the Exiles

ENGLAND CAPTAIN Mike Tindall has backed rugby league convert Shontayne Hape to star in today’s Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland. Hape has been picked by Martin Johnson in the last nine Test matches, since making his debut in Australia. But Tindall still believes the Bath centre still doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

“Of course the criticism (of Hape) it annoys me,’ said Tindall. ‘We’ve won three consecutive games and he created two tries against Italy.

‘The criticism comes from outside and I’ve learnt to accept that the midfield for England has always been a strange place to play. Whether you win, lose or draw you are always the weakness.’

Tindall believes there has been a lack of understanding of his midfield partnership with Hape.

‘We’re not conventional centres,’ he added. ‘Our partnership is not built around the centres getting the ball it’s built around what’s best for the whole team.

‘But he’ll prove people wrong and have one of those outstanding games where he breaks the line so many times, off loads and does what he does so well.’

Tindall believes that today’s game presents the Scots with a perfect chance to turn around their winless Six Nations campaign.

‘Obviously Andy Robinson and the Scottish team will be keen to turn their form around and there’s no better place for them to come and do it against us when we are unbeaten,’ Tindall added.

‘We’re under no illusions. They’re going to come and throw everything at us but what I like about our team is that we’re just focusing on what we’re trying to do every game and what we’re about.

‘The first 20 minutes will be crucial as we focus on going out there and stamping our authority on the game.

‘We didn’t really do that against France. It was a really average 40 but we came out in the first 20 of the second half and started putting things together.’

Scotland have recalled Tindall’s Glouceter team-mate Rory Lawson at scrum-half as the Scots try to turn up the heat on Ben Youngs.

‘Rory is playing really well for Gloucester. He’s very good at leading and is one of those guys who always steps up,’ said Tindall.

“Playing against Ben is always going to be a tough battle but Rory isn’t the type of person to shy away from that.’