Strettle support for rookie
Team-mate offers support to England's new number nine
Last Updated: 20/02/08 6:50pm
Wigglesworth: Set for his first start for England
Injured England winger David Strettle is backing rookie scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth to prove his quality against France on Saturday.
"If he can take his club game and put it in an England shirt he will definitely be a handful for the French because not only has he got good distribution, if you also give him half a yard around the ruck he will make you pay."
David Strettle Quotes of the week
The 24-year-old Sale Shark will make his first start for the country in Paris, replacing Andy Gomarsall in Brian Ashton's first XV.
England let a lead slip in their shock opening defeat of the RBS Six Nations to Wales and just edged past Italy 23-19 last time out.
Strettle, who was injured early in the defeat at the Millennium Stadium, is confident Wigglesworth can do the job against the in-form French.
He said: "I have known Wiggy for a while. I'm a Warrington lad so my local club was Sale and I was at their academy for a bit.
"He is a cracking lad both on and off the pitch and if he can take his club game and put it in an England shirt he will definitely be a handful for the French because not only has he got good distribution, if you also give him half a yard around the ruck he will make you pay.
"Put it this way, I don't have any worries about him starting. I'm full of confidence about him and there are a lot of talented scrum-halves coming through. He has had to wait for his chance but now he has been given this opportunity to show what he can do I have no doubt he will."
Strettle also expects England to rediscover the form that took them to the World Cup final after producing two poor second half performances in the Six Nations so far.
"The problem with England is nothing to do with individuals' skills or the coaches - it is a collective mental approach," he added.
"I have been watching the games and if we had played the way we did in the first half of both games all the way through we would have walked all over the opposition.
"For me, if you can do it in the first half you should be able to do it in the second half and the thing that was lacking was concentration. It is very hard to concentrate for 80 minutes as it is such an intense environment but it is something the top teams can do.
"So when individuals start learning to do that in a team environment then that's when England will put in a full game. It is something that could happen any time, it could be next week and when it does happen there won't be many teams that can put up with us."
The Harlequins star will find out on Friday whether he stands a chance of returning in time for the Ireland clash on March 15.