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Luther Burrell – I’m staying put to earn Test recall

Luther BurrellLuther Burrell is aiming to rekindle his Test career with England after dismissing speculation linking him with a move to French giants Toulon.

Toulon supremo Mike Ford is believed to have made Burrell one of his signing targets for 2017-18, but the Huddersfield-born centre says he has no intention of heading overseas and is ready to commit his long-term future to Saints.

Burrell told The Rugby Paper: “Every player wants to represent England, so that’s where I am with it and I’m very happy at Northampton.

“I might be 28 but I came on to the Premiership scene relatively late, so I’m still rugby young and I’ve got many years left here before I look at travelling. That’s something people tend to look at towards the back end of careers.”

Burrell insists he has no intention of calling time on his England career despite the crushing double disappointment of missing out on last year’s World Cup and being hauled off after 30 minutes of June’s first Test against Australia in Brisbane.

Instead, he takes heart from Saints teammate Tom Wood, who, at 30, fought his way back into the Test side after being dumped.

Burrell said: “What Woody’s done is an inspiration and shows why you can never give up on your dreams. Like me, he loves putting on that England jersey and all it takes is one injury to be able to put your hand up and get back in.

“It would have been easy for Woody to give up hope, but he hasn’t and he’s got his just rewards. He’s been very consistent and it’s been brilliant for him, so I’ll be working equally hard to try to earn a recall somewhere down the line.

“There’s a lot of competition with England at centre but it was only in June that I played against Wales and Australia and I can’t lose hope that quickly. It’s still very high on my ‘to do’ list but first I must play well for Northampton.”

Being knocked out at Saracens in mid-September caused Burrell concussion issues that sidelined him until earlier this month. But having featured strongly in Anglo-Welsh Cup wins over Newcastle and Gloucester, he feels ready for lift-off.

“It’s been frustrating to miss so much rugby but I’m revitalised now and buzzing,” Burrell said.

“The worst thing about going through the concussion protocols is you start playing mind games. Am I going to be okay again? Is it safe to go out and smash someone at the weekend. Overcoming that is the biggest battle.

“But I believe 100 per cent in the protocols and coming back into the Anglo-Welsh Cup has been a blessing. It’s given me the opportunity to have a good couple of weeks training and playing and it’s given me all the confidence I need.”

Saints began the season slowly, but Burrell adds: “We’ve got a big Friday night home game against Newcastle coming up, then Leicester away the week after, so we’re out to target those games and get ourselves back into that top six.”

NEALE HARVEY

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