Six Nations: England debutant Luther Burrell reflects on his 'long road' to the top
Last Updated: 30/01/14 7:44pm
Dream come true for Burrell
Luther Burrell revealed his battle with pre-match nerves ahead of his England debut against France in Saturday's Six Nations opener.
The Northampton centre, 26, has been named in Stuart Lancaster's XV for the first time and admitted he will be feeling the heat ahead of kick-off in Paris.
Burrell told Sky Sports: "It's normally a ritual for me before every game I play in that I tend to be sick so I imagine ahead of this game - the biggest of my life - that I'll be doing the same.
Tough selection decisions for Lancaster
"Hopefully I can get to the game quite early and get rid of the pre-match nerves.
"It's been a long road to get here. I've had a few setbacks on the way. I was at Leeds and got shipped out on loan to Sedgeley Park. From there I went to Otley and Rotherham.
"Along that journey, I managed to play for the West Indies Sevens, which was bizarre. It was always my end goal to get here and look back on that journey. It makes it all the more rewarding."
Saturday's other debutant is Jack Nowell - an Exeter wing full of promise at the age of just 20 who is equally thrilled at being handed a chance on the big stage.
The Cornwall-born wing said: "I was very excited just to be involved with the guys I've watched for so long and to be given the chance to get my first cap over in France, I'm over the moon with that.
"France are very dangerous and very physical. In the centres you've got Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud. I've had a bit of experience playing against Bastareaud for Exeter."
England face France in their Six Nations opener in Paris on Saturday, and captain Chris Robshaw is expecting a tough test.
Meanwhile, Burrell's midfield partner, Gloucester star Billy Twelvetrees, has been backed by World Cup winner Will Greenwood to be an automatic selection by the time the 2015 World Cup arrives.
Greenwood said of the 25-year-old: ""And I see enough in Billy Twelvetrees to get the confidence to be able to fill that role. He's got 18 months; he's clearly Stuart's number-one 12.
"And if Gloucester can find themselves in Europe next year, then he can have access to those high-level, high-intensity games that help you progress quickly.
"Stuart will want to try other players of course in the World Cup build-up, but if Billy can play say 13 or 14 Tests then he goes into the tournament with 22, 23 caps under his belt.
"Hopefully most of those will be pretty successful, and he'll have a tour to New Zealand under his belt from the summer too."