Six Nations 2014: How mum's email helped England's Burrell

Six Nations: France v England

  • Venue: Stade de France
  • Date: 1 February, 2014
  • Kick-off: 17:00 GMT

Coverage: Watch live Six Nations coverage on BBC One, BBC One HD, mobiles and online from 14:00 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live from 17:00 GMT; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

England debutant Luther Burrell says a helping hand from his mother set him on the road to his Six Nations call.

The Northampton player, 26, has been named at outside centre for Saturday's Six Nations opener against France.

Burrell says he may not have made it had his mother, Joyce, not sent an email to Stuart Lancaster, then at Leeds Academy, when he was a teenager.

"A couple of weeks later I was invited along to a trial, and I've not looked back since," Burrell told BBC 5 live.

"She wrote Stuart an email saying she thought I had been overlooked. It's typical mother's prerogative to look after her lad. But she did write it."

England's new boys

Jack Nowell - Exeter

Date of Birth: 11 April 1993

Height: 5ft 11in (1.80m)

Weight: 14st 0lb (89kg)

Luther Burrell - Northampton

Date of Birth: 6 December 1987

Height: 6ft 3in (1.91m)

Weight: 17st 2lb (109kg)

Exeter wing Jack Nowell will also make his England debut alongside Burrell in Paris.

The route to the top has been an interesting one for Burrell, to say the least.

He started his rugby union career at hometown club Huddersfield RFC, before making his senior debut for Leeds when he was 19.

Burrell took a while to establish himself at Leeds and was sent out on loan to a number of Championship sides, including Sedgley Park and Rotherham.

While at the latter, Burrell got his first taste of international rugby, albeit an experience a little different to playing for England in the Six Nations.

"I managed to play Sevens for the West Indies at Hong Kong," he said.

"That was quite an experience. I was at Leeds and (former Leeds coach) Andy Key got an email from one of his friends asking if he had any players from the Caribbean.

"Instantly he thought of me (Burrell's father Geoff is Jamaican) and he asked me if I fancied it. At the time I was out on loan at Rotherham, and just thought, 'why not?'.

"It has been a very strange journey."

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I've always believed if a player's ready and deserving an opportunity then we need to give it to them. You've got to make a debut at some point

Stuart Lancaster England head coach

Burrell also played rugby league for Huddersfield Giants and Huddersfield Carnegie before moving to Sale Sharks in 2011.

But it was his switch to Northampton the next summer which kick-started his career, and he has been an ever-present part of an impressive Saints outfit this season.

"There have been times where I've really doubted it would happen (playing for England)," added Burrell.

"I owe a lot to Northampton and the coaching staff there. They have really put faith in me and given me a lot of confidence, and the opportunity to play week-in-week behind a very good forward pack, with some very experienced players around me."

Burrell will wear the number 13 shirt for England, having played at inside centre for Northampton all season, but he says he is not bothered what number is on his back.

"I'm very happy," said Burrell. "We've got some experienced heads in this team on young shoulders, we've trained well this week and we're really confident going to Paris.

"It's always been my end goal to get here. From the first time I picked up the ball at eight years old, I've always wanted to play for England and I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.

"I'm living the dream, so to speak, and long may it continue."