Hodgson set for key role in guiding raw England team

 

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Charlie Hodgson's in-and-out international career, more out than in since 2008, is expected to resume this weekend when England's new coaching team ask him to guide a group of Six Nations rookies through the fires of Murrayfield on Calcutta Cup day. Does he feel up to it?

"I suppose it could feel like a debut," he admitted, after a punishing training session at the team base in Surrey. "There have been times when I thought I'd never be picked, but it was a case of not losing faith in my ability, of continuing to work hard regardless. I'm pleased to be involved again, pleased that these coaches deem me good enough to be here. No one likes adversity but the fact that I've been through some hard times and come out the other side is good for me.

"I'm enjoying this experience. The channel of communication with the coaches is very clear: they give players responsibility. In times gone by you would be told what to do and that was it. Here, it's the players who are taking ownership."

Ireland, who play Wales in Dublin on Sunday, have presented the Munster back Keith Earls with the task of replacing the injured Brian O'Driscoll at centre. The long-serving lock Donncha O'Callaghan has held off the challenge of another Munsterman, Donnacha Ryan, while Jonathan Sexton has been picked ahead of Ronan O'Gara at fly-half.

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