|Weight||116kg (18st 3lb)|
Opportunism has adouble meaning for Matt Banahan, who not only exploited his initial Test callsby impressing against Argentina three years ago during the absence of theinjured David Strettle but also showed he knows the way to the line.
The ‘JerseyJuggernaut’ followed his try-scoring non-cap debut against the Barbarians inMay 2009 by outmuscling and outflanking the Pumas’ defence in each of theinternationals at Old Trafford, where he was man of the match, and Salta onsuccessive June Saturdays and at Twickenham in November 2009.
His fourth Test tryagainst Samoa a year later came jubilantly on his first start as acentre and he was also instrumental in Chris Ashton completing a 54 minute hattrick against Italy at Twickenham in February 2011 with a powerful run thattook him almost to the posts.
His summer travelplans in 2009 had changed rapidly after he was originally scheduled to be amongthe Saxons’ squad for the Churchill Cup in Denver.
Matt’s try against theBarbarians in May 2009 summed up his assets when he leaped high above DougHowlett to take a cross field kick from Andy Goode and sent the former AllBlack spinning backwards.
It impressed MartinJohnson, then the England Team Manager, who said: “Matt offers something differentwith his size and aerial skills. They were not only evident from the try hescored but he also caught a kick off.”
So after six games andfive caps, he had bagged four tries which scarcely surprised Aviva Premiershipopposition against which he scored 32 tries in 77 matches going into February2011 despite being closely shepherded since his conversion from playing at lockto becoming the tallest wing in the competition. His positional switch waswhile at the RFU Junior National Academy seven years ago and he representedEngland Sevens in 2007-08.
That was his firstseason as a wing and it brought 16 tries overall, an appearance in a GuinnessPremiership semi final and a European Challenge Cup triumph for Bath, his club.
He made an impact thefollowing month on his England Saxons’ debut with a hat trick of tries in the64-10 win over the United States in the 2008 Churchill Cup and he became thetournament’s top try-scorer. In the summer of 2010, he started the two midweektour games against the Australian Barbarians and notched a try in the openingone at Perth.
After representing Jerseyand the West of England at hockey, he joined the London Irish Academy beforeheading to Bath in 2006 and in December 2009 signed another three-yearcontract. ‘Banners’ was educated at Les Quennevais School in St Brélade,Jersey, where he was born and celebrated captaining Bath for the first timewith a sixth-minute try against Cardiff Blues in the LV=Cup in November 2010.His four tries in the penultimate pool round of the Heineken Cup helped hisside to beat Aironi 55-16 at the Recreation Ground two months later.
20 points – 4T
2009 Arg (1,2), A,
Arg, NZ, 2010 Sam, SA(R) 2011 It(R), F(R), S(R), I, W, W World Cup – G
(R), S(R), F(R)