BEN Howard will be proudly flying the Warriors flag when he steps out for England Under 20s who take on their French counterparts in the Six Nations at Sixways today (3pm).
The Worcester academy product has been named at full-back by England head coach Rob Hunter and is eager to get the Red Rose young guns’ campaign back on track after the 16-15 defeat to Ireland under 20s in Athlone earlier this month.
Despite that loss, England are still second in the table as they beat Scotland 15-6 at Plymouth Albion on the opening weekend of the competition, so it is all to play for when they entertain fifth-placed France this afternoon.
Despite the gulf between the two sides in terms of positions in the table, they are only seperated by a points difference of 15, and Howard is expecting a stern examination from the French.
He said: “From what I’ve heard from the players who were involved in the match in France last year, it was a hard one and a tough one to lose.
“I think, from our point of view, it’s a must-win match because we’ve got aspirations to win the tournament and you’re going to struggle to do that if you lose two matches.
“Obviously, when you see there is a match for England at your home ground you’re always going to be excited about it. I know what the support is like at Worcester and I’m sure we’ll get a good crowd out to support the match.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it.
“It’s the one I targeted as one to be selected for, but to be selected you have to put the hard work in earlier and hopefully that will be the case.
“And hopefully it will be a good match and a memorable one as well.”
Having mainly been employed on the wing during his brief, yet impressive, cameos for Richard Hill’s Warriors first XV, Howard ultimately sees himself as a full-back.
He explained: “I’ve always been a full-back. I was a fly-half when I was younger, but certainly later during my school years and now I would always class myself as a full-back.
“At Worcester, my chances have come on the wing and as a young player it’s probably easier to get thrown in on the wing than at full-back where there’s a bit more pressure on you as a decision-maker and you’re a bit more involved.
“I see myself as a full-back. I don’t think I have the out-and-out pace to be a top-class winger. The most important thing is to be playing.”