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England tell Christian Wade to prove he’s ready

Christian WadeChristian Wade is still waiting for that elusive first England cap but the Wasps flyer revealed Stuart Lancaster has pinpointed exactly what he needs to work on to make the step up.

When Wade was picked for last summer’s tour to South Africa, it looked a certainty that he would be a full international by the time the Six Nations rolled around.

Instead the 21-year-old speedster has been forced to bide his time with Wasps while Lancaster has resisted the temptation of capping arguably the Premiership’s most lethal finisher.

Wade had eight Premiership tries heading into today’s clash against London Irish, but he revealed that Lancaster is waiting for him to show that his tackling, kicking and ability under the high ball are up to scratch.

That ties in logically with Lancaster’s desire for all-rounders in his back three, with Chris Ashton the only out-and-out-winger in the matchday squad that played France yesterday.

But Wade is not disheartened at being overlooked, and revealed knowing where he needs to improve has made it easy to stay motivated.

He said: “Stuart Lancaster and I have spoken about making that step up to the England senior side when I’ve been in camps.

“We’ve mainly been talking about the defensive systems and how they want me to fit in to that and what I need to do.

“Going forward, he wants to have a handful of world-class players in his team. For me, personally, I have to work on my defence and make sure I have more than just two or three strengths, like my attacking, that are nine out of ten.

“I need to make sure my kicking, covering high balls, tackling and other defensive stuff is rounded at a seven or eight out of ten.

“Instead of having just one or two things I’m exceptionally good at, Stuart has told me I need to have another four or five I’m really good at as well.

“I’m not sure where I am in Stuart’s thinking. He’s got the EPS squad and I’m in the Saxons and naturally if someone goes down then they look to Saxons players to come in.

“I don’t think anyone knows really where they stand. It’s all about what combinations they want to use or giving players a run out who haven’t had an opportunity already.”

Wade demonstrated how dangerous he is when given an inch again last week with two tries in the win over Gloucester to maintain Wasps’ challenge for a top four spot.

And Wade explained that the arrival of former Wales full-back Shane Howarth has had a big impact on the way the whole club has been training.

He added: “Our whole programme has changed a lot from the way we train to how long we train for. Dai Young has brought in Shane to the team who has changed the way we attack and coaches the backs.

“So there are a few key components that have come together with new personnel coming and some new young players with a lot of potential.

“It felt like a fresh start at the beginning of the season. I came to pre-season quite late because of England’s summer tour, but when I came back I experienced it for myself.

“The culture here is the same, but the way we train is different. We’re now well into the season but to start with it was a big change. Now though the boys are used to it and it’s going well.

“The ultimate goal for me is definitely to get in to the EPS and I’m working hard here at Wasps to make sure I can maximise my performances week in, week out.

“Hopefully that can attract the attention and keep me in the mix for England. I’m not sure if there is something different I can bring to the table compared to the other wingers in the squad.

“There’s my scoring abilities and pace but there are so many great wingers who are playing well at the moment.”

TOM MacLEOD

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