In the week of darkness for English rugby when 101 damnations of the national team leaked from the ton of pages of reports into the World Cup, Jordan Turner-Hall is speaking up for the new generation.
At 23 – yet six years a Harlequins first-teamer – he has only known the concept of playing adult rugby for money. "It's a shame to see the media coverage [of England's World Cup]," Turner-Hall said. "But at the same time there's a lot of bright young players coming through and it's best that everyone starts to look forward and see what we've got in our country. Looking forward we should be excited that we've got this talent and we really want to showcase it."
Someone at Twickenham must name a squad at the start of January for the Six Nations' Championship. Turner-Hall watched England pick Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape most often in his position in the past year. "[Martin] Johnson stuck with his men and I can't knock him for that," Turner-Hall said. "I think 'opportunity' is the word. A good opportunity for whoever fills Johnson's shoes, with all the youngsters coming through tojoin the key players. Playing for your country is the number one goal for me."
In September 2009 Riki Flutey had just dropped out of the England squad injured and Turner-Hall (his mother's name is Turner; his late father's was Hall), who had played and scored for a non-cap England against the Barbarians the previous May, was set to be the next man in. Then he dislocated his shoulder with Quins and had four months out. England picked Shane Geraghty and Ayoola Erinle (neither of whom have been selected since) at inside centre for that autumn's internationals. "It is hard to get somewhere and start again," said Turner-Hall, "but it's gone and if I kept looking back I'd be a depressive. It wasn't my time." He had another non-Test run against the Barbarians at Twickenham last May – as a substitute for Ugo Monye – only to be knocked out by a tackle from the giant French centre, Mathieu Bastareaud. "I remember getting hit in the jaw," Turner-Hall said, "and the next thing I was on a bed in the medical room."
Will Greenwood, the retired England centre and a team-mate of Turner-Hall in the latter's early Quins matches, says the young No 12 deserves an England call. Last weekend, another former England player, Pat Sanderson, said in TV commentary as Turner-Hall's snapped pass created a try in the win at Gloucester: "He's not renowned for his passing."
Turner-Hall's club partnership with the fly-half Nick Evans is a classic mix of enforcer and fencer, said: "Yeah, my mates were rinsing me about that. The way we play, passing is not a main part of my game, but it's in my armoury. I think I give Quins a lot of go-forward. Do I get pigeon holed? Yeah I think I do. But I am a physical player, I enjoy the confrontation. That is my main asset. Nick makes my life very easy. One of our main phrases is 'be unpredictable'."
It is there among the Harlequins mottoes in the team room, on whiteboards bearing the players' signatures. "Commitment, Respect, Excellence, Pride" on one; "Ruthless, enjoyment, tempo, unpredictable and one shot, one kill" on the other. Winning makes it easier to stick to them. "We've got this record and we want to keep it," said Turner-Hall. "The best thing that's come out of it is that everyone' s playing for each other."
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