He may have missed the England boat this month but Nathan Hines insists Sale Sharks teammate Michael Paterson is right on the cusp of a Test debut.
Despite touring with Stuart Lancaster’s squad to the land of his birth – New Zealand – earlier this year, Paterson has been overlooked for the autumn internationals.
The usual suspects – Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Dave Attwood – and Saracens’ George Kruis have made up the second row quartet as England have slipped to defeats at the hands of New Zealand and South Africa.
And Hines, who has been prevented from partnering Paterson in Sale’s second row in recent weeks by an arm injury, believes his side’s indifferent form has played a part in the 29-year-old’s exclusion.
“He’s not far off the others,” said Hines. “Courtney [Lawes] and Joe [Launchbury] are a little bit more physical but Michael and Dave [Attwood] are quite similar, they play more like a back row forward. Second row is now becoming a position like the back row, needing to be more athletic.
“Michael’s been playing really well for us and if our results had been a bit better at the start of the season he might have had a shot at making the England squad.
“He’s in a good place. When I come back it’ll take a bit of the pressure off him so he can play his natural game and leave me to do the mundane stuff while he gets the ball in his hands a bit more.”
Hines, who arrived at the AJ Bell Stadium over the summer, will miss that contest but the 38-year-old is champing at the bit to get back to competitive action soon.
“It’s been a frustrating start to the season, personally for me because I haven’t been playing,” he added.
“But for the squad in general because we’ve got in good positions against several teams but let games slip away.
“We’ve rectified our set pieces and now it’s functioning well. We’re in a good place, could be a better one, but we’re not too far off.
“On Friday there’ll be a big emphasis to make sure our defence is as good as last weekend against London Irish.
“We didn’t get too challenged in defence then but away from home, against a good attacking team like Harlequins, you want to make sure you defence is rock solid first then build on that.”
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