NATHAN Hughes is adamant his England career is not finished and is determined to prove to Eddie Jones it was a mistake to dump him from his Japanese plans.
Bristol’s new signing is also extremely confident he can help the West Country club develop into serious top six contenders this season following his switch from Wasps.
Fiji-born Hughes insists he has ‘moved on’ from missing out on going to the World Cup and has been working hard in the gym and on the training ground to be in top form when the new season begins.
Hughes, 28, who upset some at Wasps when he agreed to leave before the end of last season, missed out on England selection with Newcastle’s Mark Wilson, right, getting the nod to be Billy Vunipola’s back up.
But Hughes insisted: “I am not giving up on England, not at all. I was disappointed not to get the opportunity to go to Japan but as one door shuts another door will open in the future for me to put my hand up.
“Bristol is the way to go and I can’t be bothered too much now about not being picked for the World Cup. England will take care of itself if I go out there and perform to the best of my ability.
“I want to make a statement here. I aim to show Eddie and everyone else what Nathan is about and I am ready to go. I’m not out for good, I am still here.”
“You train all your life for a big goal like the World Cup and sometimes you have obstacles put in your way and this is just one of them. I’ve brushed it off and I’m ready to move on.”
Hughes shrugs off criticism of his final few performances for Wasps after he had put pen to paper to leave for Bristol. Wasps boss Dai Young had a word with the player to try motivate him after fearing he had dropped his level.
“You always try to perform the highest standard you can,” Hughes ays. “You go out there and try and show people what you are made of. Whatever people said, it is their own judgement, but I thought I was playing some good rugby at the back end of the season and put in some great performances.”
On England’s chances in Japan, he said: “They will do really well. They can ease themselves into the tournament in the first couple of games and hit the ground running. It is going to be a very exciting World Cup and all the big teams will stand up. I will be watching most of it which means my wife won’t get to have much time with me!
“I will also be cheering on Fiji. They have a tough Pool with Australia and Wales but they are improving all the time and looking good. They beat Wales in 2007 and there’s no reason why they can’t do it again if they put the effort into it.”
While the events on the playing fields of the Far East will capture the attention of rugby fans around the globe over the coming weeks, including Hughes, the player intends throwing himself body and soul into trying to transform Bristol into a Premiership powerhouse.
He feels the sky’s the limit for Pat Lam’s men with the team under some pressure to repay the vast financial outlay of owner Stephen Lansdown. The Guernsey billionaire was happy his club avoided relegation last time but will now be demanding a push towards the top end of the table.
Hughes insisted: “Pat (Lam) spoke to me about the vision the club had and where they want to be in the future.
“ I agreed to join because I want to be part of an exciting team in years to come and I believe Bristol can be that team. The club secured their Premiership place again last May but this season will be different.
“This time the opponents will be watching out for Bristol, and knowing we are a good team who are on the up.
“The boys are ready to go out firing and our target is to get in to the top six. We want a Champions Cup spot and I feel we can get that. And if the top four comes up we will be ready.”
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