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Walker promises passion and pride ahead of Italy U20 clash

10 February 2012

  • Flanker determined to "kick on" after big win over Scotland
  • If I put my body on the line, hopefully the boys will follow me – Walker
England Under 20 flanker Chris Walker

Photo: Getty Images

Stand-in skipper Chris Walker has urged England Under 20s to build on their 59-3 hammering of Scotland at Firhill last Friday with a "proud and passionate" showing against Italy tonight.

The Leeds Carnegie flanker, who takes the helm in the absence of George Ford, was clearly thrilled at the prospect of captaining his country and rejected any suggestion that his side would be unsettled after wholesale changes to the match-day squad.

"it is obviously an amazing feeling," said the 20 year-old openside. "Now, I need to follow in George’s footsteps because he’s put down a good marker. There are a great set of boys in the squad so we should be able to kick on with another win.

"[The changes] won’t disrupt anything. All the boys that have come in play in the style that we want to play in. They’ve got this opportunity on merit, so hopefully they can take it."

In Tommy Bell at fly half and No.8 Dominic Barrow, Walker is joined by two Leeds colleagues in Rob Hunter’s much-altered starting line-up and he is confident that his club mates would shine in Rovigo after impressing in the RFU Championship.

"Tommy is an amazing player who has done fantastic things for Leeds this year," he explained. "He has good running, distribution and kicking skills. They are all qualities he can bring to this team and a lot of the boys will be able to thrive around him too.

"Dom is an awesome line out forward. He is also a good carrier as well and always plays with a great deal of heart, which is what this Under 20 side is built on."

England wing Marland Yarde in full flow

Photo: Getty Images

Though England ran riot in the corresponding fixture last year, recording a hugely emphatic 74-3 victory, Walker seemed in no mood for complacency.

"Every team we will play against this season, in both the Six Nations and the World Cup, will be very tough to beat," he added. "Everyone wants to play against England too, so we are always up against similar challenges.

"Italy will carry the ball very hard and we need to start well so we have a foundation on which to build a good performance and, hopefully, come out on top."

Having led England at U18 level two years ago on the tour of South Africa, Walker has experience of international captaincy and finished by outlining his approach to the job in hand:  

"I do say a few words in the dressing room, but I also like to get out on the field and show what I can do by leading from the front. If I put my body on the line and show the pride and passion that I have talked about, hopefully the boys will follow me."