Gloucester prop Harden wins first full England call for South Africa tour
RUPERT Harden has won his first senior England call – to take on South Africa next month.
The 27-year-old Gloucester tighthead has been called into Stuart Lancaster’s full England squad, to replace injured Matt Stevens.
Saracens front-rower Stevens has suffered a shoulder injury that has ruled him out of the three-test tour.
And so former Rugby School and Newcastle Falcons prop Harden steps into the breach.
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The Melbourne-born front-rower stepped up to the England Saxons for the first time this season, and now finds himself elevated to the full touring side.
Lancaster has always insisted that any of the Saxons squad could make the step to the top level, and the new England boss has selected a number of young stars of the future to give them the experience of an international tour.
Harden is now among them, and has a real chance to stake a long-term claim for the future.
Just a year-and-a-half ago Harden was battling to force his way into the Gloucester side, and three years ago he was plying his trade with Tynedale in National League One.
Harden’s rapid rise continues and now he has the chance to show his credentials on the biggest stage of all.