England boss Stuart Lancaster is backing Northampton's Calum Clark to make an impact after naming him in his elite-player squad.
England boss Stuart Lancaster is backing Northampton forward Calum Clark to make an impact after naming him in his elite-player squad.
Lancaster believes Clark deserves a second chance at Test level after he received a 32-week suspension for breaking the arm of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins in last season's LV= Cup final.
The lengthy ban ruled Clark out of England's tour to South Africa and 2012's end-of-year internationals.
Lancaster is confident the versatile Saints stalwart has put his suspension behind him and feels he has the ability to impress at flank or lock at Test level.
“I have coached him since he was 14 and I know him well enough to know that he is hugely regretful of the incident,” explained Lancaster.
“When he went into the hearing he didn't do anything other than put his hands up and say, 'I made a bad mistake, I apologise'.
“He has never felt anything other than remorse. He has served his punishment, a 32-week ban.
“I was disappointed we ended up in the situation that (he) missed out on developing himself for club and country. Massively.
“But equally, as with other players in the past, I think everyone deserves a second chance – and certainly he does.
“I have watched his games closely and observed his behaviour to make sure he is on the right side of where he should be.
“He has a competitive nature but he is channelling that in the right way. I know what he can offer.”
“In addition to his desire to win, his versatility in the second row is an option for us. He is incredibly athletic and very good in the contact areas.
“He's got to have the desire to play in the second row for him to be successful. I've checked that is the case and he's happy.”