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Dave Ewers stepping up his challenge to Chris Robshaw      

Dave EwersDave Ewers will challenge Chris Robshaw for his England place according to Exeter Chiefs teammate Don Armand, who describes Stuart Lancaster’s decision not to include the powerful back-rower in last year’s World Cup squad as “bizarre”.

Ewers missed the Six Nations through injury, but was back to his best during Exeter’s surge into the play-offs. He looks certain to be included when boss Eddie Jones announces his Red Rose squad for next month’s Australia tour later today.

Armand, right, who has England ambitions of his own, told The Rugby Paper: “Dave Ewers should definitely have an England place and it would be lovely to see him finally getting his reward for what has essentially been two years of effort.

“He’s been playing a game none of the rest of us could and not getting recognition for it. Last year he was our players’ player of the year and should have been a shoo-in for the England team, but he didn’t even make the 50-man World Cup squad.

“I found that bizarre and it came as a big shock to us at Exeter because he’d been our star player and was consistent throughout the season.

“He was unlucky with an injury before the Six Nations after being named by Eddie Jones, but he’s not taken long to get back into top form and he’s been really solid. Whether it’s in attack or defence, he can do the job to a very high level.”

Armand believes Ewers’ return to form is great news for England, adding: “Chris Robshaw has really stepped up to the plate this year in terms of the pressure he’s been under, not just from the World Cup but guys knocking on the door behind.

“That’s the healthy competition you need for people, though, and you don’t just want one guy who can do that role, you want to select from a group of three.

“Dave’s certainly put his hand up to be a strong contender and that’s great for England.”

Armand, who, like Ewers, hails from Zimbabwe, could also be in line for an England call on the back of a stellar campaign which earned the energetic back rower a nomination for last week’s Premiership player of the year award.

England-qualified Armand, 27, said: “You want to be the kind of person who’s at the top of your level and I’m not just happy playing for the Chiefs in the Premiership, you want to be really pushing to reach that next level up as well.

“A Saxons call-up would be great. I’d love to go back to South Africa so let’s see what happens.”

With so many Exeter players pushing for Test recognition, Armand believes the West Country outfit are primed for years of top-flight success.

He added: “The way the Chiefs are going this is not just going to be a flash in the pan.

“There’s a good base to work from now and nobody here will get complacent. We feel we’re capable of challenging in the top four year-on-year.”

NEALE HARVEY

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