Ex-Hoppers star’s World Cup target

Richard Wigglesworth

Richard Wigglesworth

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Former Preston Grasshoppers star Richard Wigglesworth is hoping to nail down a spot in England’s World Cup squad.

The 32-year-old former Kirkham Grammar School pupil was named in the starting XV by head coach Stuart Lancaster for today’s warm-up clash against France at Twickenham.

A good performance this evening against the French could see the Saracens scrum-half seal his place in the 31-man World Cup squad.

Wigglesworth – who has 21 international caps to his name having first appeared for his country in 2008 – is eager to prove his worth.

“It’s a huge opportunity for me to stake a claim,” said Wigglesworth, who has also operated as winger or fly-half during his career.

“It’s been a while since I started as a No.9 in an England shirt so I just can’t wait to get going.

“I am feeling very proud, I’ve got all my family and mates coming down to watch, so it will be nice to have them there watching.”

Having initially being named in a 50-man World Cup camp, Wigglesworth has managed to avoid two cuts by Lancaster, who has whittled his squad down to 39 players.

He is hoping he is not one of the eight players who will be omitted by Lancaster when he names his final squad ahead of the World Cup, which starts next month.

“I would not say it has been a boost for me making cuts,” Wigglesworth said.

“It’s not something I have looked at and thought, ’I am going to try to make this cut or that cut’.

“I kind of said to myself when I got into this World Cup camp , I am going to try to make this England team as successful as possible.

“And if that got me in the team along the way and I got to play some rugby off the back of it, then great.

“I’ve not been waiting for an axe to fall or anything like that because I don’t think you would perform as well if that was just your only goal.

“I am really looking forward to the game tonight.

“I managed to get myself back in the mix for England during the autumm.

“Danny Youngs was brilliant in the Six-Nations and all credit to him.

“But now hopefully, I will get an opportunity to get some good minutes under my belt and play well.

Wigglesworth – whose brother-in-law is Preston’s Commonwealth Games gold medal winning boxer Scott Fitzgerald – is looking forward to playing alongside club mate Owen Farrell, who will play at fly-half against the French.

“Owen is very easy to play with, I always know where he is,” he added.

“We know what each other’s strengths are and he knows how I kick the ball – there are no surprises.

“I love playing with Owen. He is an aggressive, loud northerner and he certainly gets the team going.”

From: England Podcast Rugby