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England 00:00 New Zealand

Mears lauds former Wallaby

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 09/11/05 8:36am

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Irony often finds ways of glorifying itself through sport, and that will certainly be the case at Twickenham on Saturday if one Lee Mears makes his England debut.

Mears is among the replacements for Andy Robinson's men as they look to beat Australia, and the Bath hooker admits that a match-winning international birth would be due to the work of a former Wallaby great.

Michael Foley is the current forwards coach at Bath, and Mears is the first to lay the credit at the door of the ex-Australian front row.

"It always helps, having a coach who played in your position," said the 26-year-old.

"Some days you go in when you've played badly and he is harder on me than anyone else, but generally he is very good. He has taught me a lot.

"He has just given me an extra angle on my game. We sit down and discuss things, and try to work out how to make me a better player all the time. He's taught me how to be a leader.

"There were times when I thought I might have to leave, but I decided to stick it out, and since Michael Foley has come in, I've been very happy.

"He has come in with an Australian spin on things. It is just something different, something new if you like, and he has been very good for me."

Now Mears wants to display his talents on the global stage, starting with a win over Foley's countrymen on Saturday.

The Bath man is deputy to under-pressure number two Steve Thompson, and an assured appearance as a replacement against England's arch-rivals could secure Mears the hooker role ahead of the 2007 World Cup.

However, Mears is merely happy to be part of the international scene for the near future, and he is hoping to bring his own brand of forward play to the England side.

"I love running the scrum and scrummaging, and I love getting the ball in my hands. As a hooker, your job is scrummaging and throwing the ball into the lineout - anything on the back of that is a bonus.

"Meeting up with everyone in the England squad has been a great experience for me. I was over the moon to be called up, and I have really enjoyed it.

"You never really know when it comes to selection, and I've just got to play to the best of my ability."


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