- Being told you are going to start a Test match for your country is an awesome feeling
- London Irish youngster outlines "massive influence" of Mike Catt
Jonathan Joseph is confident that England’s new-look backline will be able to use their pace to good effect during the second Test against South Africa at Johannesburg’s Coca-Cola Park on Saturday afternoon.
After being handed a berth at outside centre in an intriguing midfield partnership with Manu Tuilagi, Joseph will build on his senior debut last weekend – an impressive three-minute cameo from the replacements’ bench at the end of a bruising 22-17 defeat for Stuart Lancaster's charges.
Understandably, the 21 year-old London Irish man was elated about the opportunity to impress from the outset.
“Being told you are going to start a Test match for your country is an awesome feeling,” he smiled. “I was delighted to come on last week and get my first cap, even though it was only for a very short time.
“Now, I am really excited about this next challenge. I know it is going to be a tough game but I am really looking forward to it.”
Moving on to discuss the selection in more detail, Joseph explained how England’s wide men can capitalise on Tuilagi’s considerable carrying ability, which was again in stark evidence at Kings Park.
“Manu shifting in one [to inside centre] will create things,” he said. “He is a great player and defenders look to know that they have to man-up when he comes through the middle.
“That means that there is going to be space elsewhere, which is good for Fodes [Ben Foden], Ashy [Chris Ashton] and Stretts [David Strettle]. Hopefully they can get on the end of things, because we have the pace to exploit space in those channels.”
Having been with the Exiles for the entirety of his fledgling professional career, Joseph has made significant strides in his rugby development under the watchful eye of newly-appointed England backs coach Mike Catt.
Photo: Getty Images
Indeed, he admitted that the presence of a 75-cap World Cup-winner was extremely valuable, both personally and for the squad as a collective in South Africa.
“I have loved every minute I have had with Catty,” Joseph continued. “He has brought me through a great deal at London Irish, whether that has been by doing individual things at the end of sessions or just talking with me about how I should look to improve my game.
“He has been a massive influence and I am very happy that he is here in the set-up at the same time that I am. He’s a man with a lot of knowledge so it’s great for all of us to be able to have that to feed off and use to the best of our ability.”
Finally, Joseph turned to the abrasive approach that he expects from the Springboks, who triumphed in Durban with uncomplicated, yet fiercely uncompromising tactics.
“They have a lot of big boys who run hard and run straight. We can expect that again this weekend. They will probably look to shift the focus by going wide a few times as well, because they have the players to do that. We have to front up and smash them backwards."