Topsy Ojo, a Tottenham-born wing of Nigerian descent, took up rugby as a 12-year-old in the late 1990s, by which time three of his countrymen – the Bath trio of Adedayo Adebayo, Victor Ubogu and Steve Ojomoh – had established themselves as players of international quality.
"I remember watching those guys," said the new cap from London Irish. "I'm one of them now, and it feels good."
Ojo has been on the England radar for some years, winning honours at three age-group levels before featuring in the second-string Saxons side, but it is his recent exploits for Irish that have raised eyebrows – not least among the blue-blooded footballers of Toulouse, who found him too hot to handle in the Heineken Cup semi-final.
"That was the marker," he said. "It wasn't apparent to me at the time, but the reaction to my display made me aware I was being considered by the Test coaches."
His father, Akin, a surgeon, and his brother, Babs, will be in New Zealand for Saturday's game. "My father really enjoys his rugby now," he said, "while my brother, who plays socially, always said if I made it with England he'd be there, wherever it might happen."Reuse content