Abendanon wants England recall for World Cup

Former England and Bath fullback Nick Abendanon says that he would jump at the chance to play for England again if he was called up by head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Abendanon has been in outstanding form of late and sent Lancaster a reminder of his skills in Clermont’s European Champions Cup victory over Northampton Saints on the weekend.

The 28-year-old South African-born full-back won two caps for England, against the country of his birth and France, way back in 2007.

His performances for Bath, with whom he played more than 200 matches over eight seasons between 2005-14, and subsequent fleet-footed form for Clermont have led many pundits to ask why he hasn’t featured more.

After helping Clermont to a 37-5 rout of Northampton in the European Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday – his try-scoring performance winning him the man-of-the-match accolade, Abendanon admitted to feeling aggrieved at his lack of international honours.

“There’s been no communication so I’ve just got to keep working here and if Clermont keep playing well then maybe I’ll be called up to the World Cup training squad but we’ll see,” Abendanon said.

“Deep down I’m still upset that over the last 10 years I’ve only had two caps and I’ve always wanted to play more for England.”

But Abendanon faces an uphill struggle, not only because of the form of incumbent Mike Brown and favoured deputy Alex Goode, but also because Lancaster selects players solely plying their trade in the English Premiership.

“It’s about timing, Mike Brown has been in great form for the last six or seven years and Alex Goode has also got that utility that England like – Browny never seems to get injured either!” Abendanon told Sky Sports.

“At times it is waiting for an injury or an opportunity. It helps when you play in a winning team and unfortunately when I was at Bath we were in the middle of the pack for a few seasons.

“I’m not really worrying about England. If I keep playing well there may be dispensation but that’s not at the front of my mind at all.

“In the back of my head I’ve always wanted to play more for England. To maybe get that opportunity for a World Cup in England would be a dream come true.”

Certainly Abendanon’s stand-out performance against the runaway English Premiership leaders lit up social media, with many questioning whether he might be left to one side like Toulon flanker and reigning European player of the year Steffon Armitage.

“@nick_abendanon staking a claim that he could, like @Magicsteffo7, be a potential wild card for higher honours later this season?!?” Toulon’s Springbok winger Bryan Habana tweeted.

Ex-England full-back Iain Balshaw, who also sparkled when he joined Biarritz, responded to Habana, “No doubt. That “playing abroad” policy is a load of b******* !!”

Abendanon, however, insisted he had no regrets over his move to France, saying he was relishing the freedom he was being given in the Clermont side.

“This is one of the reasons why I have come to one of the best clubs in Europe, to play in the big games here – it’s an incredible experience,” he said.

“Our coaches have basically said ‘if you’re on the front foot, you have the licence to play, you’ve got the licence to do whatever you want’. That suits me down to a tee because my first instinct is to attack with the ball.”

Clermont coach Franck Azema was full of praise for Abendanon after the Northampton rout.

“He mixes up his game very well,” he said of the full-back. “The first two times he touched the ball he kicked!

“He’s very determined in everything he does and his teammates know how to respond around him, to adapt themselves to his angles of running.”

Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser is one of the handful of French players in a team that featured eight nationalities against Northampton, and he said the likes of Abendanon and Wales centre Jonathan Davies were playing their best rugby at the club.

“The club has been doing great for the last few years, targeting some great players,” said Kayser.

“And players like Jonathan Davies and Nick Abendanon, everyone knows they’re great players, but they’ve applied themselves properly here.”

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