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Former Cornish Pirates hooker Ward grateful to his old club for Saxons chance

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

By Bill Sobey and Sara Raine

Former Cornish Pirates hooker Ward grateful to his old club for Saxons chance

Former Cornish Pirates hooker Dave Ward

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Former Cornish Pirate Dave Ward said he is grateful to his old club for his England Saxons opportunity.

Hooker Ward will start the Saxons’ game against Scotland A this evening. And, while he might not fit the Saxons’ profile of youth and raw pace, the 28-year-old would not swap his seven-year journey.

Ward made his first Premiership start in seven years for Harlequins this term. His spell at Bath in 2005 was brief, and a later stint at Sale Sharks was beset by injury.

Cornish Pirates came to the rescue in 2009 when Ward flirted dangerously with throwing in the towel, and three years later he won a move back to the top-flight with Quins.

Ward feels his route into the England set-up shows, just as it can never come too soon, it can also never be too late.

“It’s been a combination of luck and hard work to get back,” Ward said.

“I’d be playing rugby whether it was amateur, semi-pro or whatever.

“So the chance to do it at a level like this is fantastic. The Pirates gave me a great chance at an important time, and then Harlequins have followed that up too. So I’d like to keep repaying both those clubs.

“It did cross my mind to retire at times, but, when you still think there’s a shred of opportunity, you’ve got to go for it.”

Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson, meanwhile, has praised Stuart Lancaster’s decision to give Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell a senior start in England’s Six Nations opener against France.

The 21-year-old Robson hopes coach Lancaster will expand his revised attacking blueprint still further, to capitalise on England’s depth of free-running talent.

“I think you’ve seen changes already with the squad Stuart’s picked for the weekend, there’s a lot of young lads in there, Jack Nowell and Jonny May,” Robson said.

“There’s a lot of flair and attacking power there. So the whole set-up is moving in that direction and that’s extremely encouraging.

“We want to play with width and pace at Gloucester, we want to get the ball to our danger men.

“And, the more England mirror that, hopefully the more opportunities that will give for players from the club.”

Plymouth Albion prop Matt Shields will play for England Counties against a France Federale XV in Nevers tonight (7pm UK time).

Shields, who has been on loan at Tynedale this season, was called into the squad this week to cover for injuries.

He is one of six new caps in the England Counties squad.

Joining him in the side is Exmouth scrum-half Richard Bolt and Cornish All Blacks lock Ben Hilton.

Albion head coach James Shanahan is England Counties’ backs coach. Shanahan will return to England after the game to join up with Albion ahead of their match with London Welsh tomorrow.

England Counties: Wigglesworth (Cambridge); Briers (Fylde), Adams (Cinderford), Myring (Coventry), Mitchell (Darlington Mowden Park); Johnson (Fylde, capt), Bolt (Exmouth); Kalbraier (Blaydon), McNamee (Old Albanians), Shields (Tynedale/Albion), Wearmouth (Blaydon), Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), Stradwick (Blackheath), Stapley (Henley), Jones (Blaydon). Replacements: Matthews (Sedgley Park), Ford-Robinson (Cambridge), Haskins (Blackheath), Phillips (Darlington Mowden Park), McCraith (Bishop’s Stortford), Heeks (Rosslyn Park), Richards (Worthing), Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers).

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