Cameron Neild is determined to follow in the footsteps of England’s most recent Six Nations call-up Tommy Taylor and fight his way into the international reckoning.
Taylor was this week called up as injury cover by Eddie Jones with fellow hooker Jamie George of Saracens ruled out, and now question marks surround the fitness of skipper Dylan Hartley for England’s Grand Slam decider against France in Paris.
And Neild, who has been used consistently at flanker this season by Sale Sharks, admits seeing a club colleague plucked by Jones for England duty has been inspiring.
Taylor will be leaving Sale in the summer to join Wasps, while Bath hooker Rob Webber will be replacing him in Manchester and Neild is determined to put down a marker for club and country.
“Definitely, it’s a great opportunity for Tommy and he deserves it,” he said. “He trains hard every week and has done very well to get into the England squad.
“He was disappointed not to have been included in the first place but now he’s been called up. I hope he gets his chance this weekend and plays well – his call-up is inspiring for everyone at the club.
“Obviously I want to follow the same footpath as Tommy and it’s what I’m aiming to do.
“My long-term aspiration is to play for England and to get as many caps for England as possible. Tommy has done so well and I’d like to do the same.”
Neild has been operating out of position at points during the season, but he concedes he has to play wherever he is required if it helps Sale Sharks achieve their season’s objective.
A hooker by trade, Neild is adamant his future lies in the No.2 jersey, but admits time on the pitch is most valuable to him at the moment.
“There hasn’t really been much adjustment because I used to play as a number 8 and flanker till I was about 18 so I’ve been playing in that position a lot longer than I’ve been playing hooker,” he added.
“I see my future as a hooker but I’m enjoying playing in the back row at the moment. I think to fulfil my aspirations I see my long-term future as a hooker but don’t get me wrong I’m enjoying playing back-row if it’s what is needed.
“I’m enjoying playing regularly. It’s why I joined the club with the aim of playing rugby with the first team.
“I’m just happy to get my opportunity and I’m enjoying playing for Sale at the moment. It means a lot to me going out every week and wearing that shirt.
“Playing in front of the crowd and playing for the team which I’ve loved since I was a young boy is massive to me and I’m trying to get as many caps for the club under my belt as possible.”