Michael Rhodes, the South African born double winning Saracens flanker, wants to be part of England’s bid for World Cup glory in 2019.
Rhodes, who helped Sarries win the European Champions Cup and Premiership titles, has been in outstanding form for the club this season, filling in as an emergency second row to help solve an injury crisis. He has been so effective, Sarries are on course to repeat their double triumph with Rhodes scoring a try and making one for Alex Goode in the 40-19 win over Harlequins in front of nearly 72,000 fans at Wembley.
Rhodes, who joined the club from the Cape Town based Stormers, is one of the most effective forwards in European rugby and revealed to Chris Jones Media he wants to bid for an England squad place once he satisfies the current three year residency rule in 12 months’ time.
Rhodes, 29, said:” I have been here for nearly two years and am contracted with Sarries until the end of 2019 and anything above playing for the club would be amazing if it happened . England have a really good side at the moment but it would be wonderful if it did happen. I haven’t had any conversations about this because I only qualify in a year’s time and it would be a bit premature to have any discussion. I don’t know if he (Eddie Jones) would be interested and so we will wait and see after three years and hopefully I will get that phone call.”
One hurdle Rhodes could face is a move by the Rugby Football Union to push for an increase in the qualification period to five years and a World Rugby vote on the issue is due in May.
The 6ft 6ins flanker is hoping to follow Nathan Hughes route into the England squad after the Fijian-born Wasps No8 broke into the the squad this season having qualified on residency. Rhodes was forced into action as an emergency lock after 22 mintues against Quins when veteran Jim Hamilton injured his back. Sarries face Northampton in the Premeirship at the MKDons stadium on Sunday and are set to rest key players including Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final against Munster in Dublin on April 22.
Quins face second placed Exeter at home on Friday night knowing they face an uphill battle to secure a Champions Cup qualifiing place with outside half Nick Evans saying:“Our games are all cup finals now and it starts with Exeter on Friday night. We will make sure we finish in the top six and get that Champions Cup place.”