Derby-born Jonathan Joseph could be a key man on British Lions tour, says Jason Robinson
WORLD Cup winner Jason Robinson has singled out Derby-born centre Jonathan Joseph as a Lions wild card selection this summer.
Robinson toured with the Lions in 2001, scoring a try in the 29-13 win in the opening Test match in Australia – a feat he achieved before even starting a single international for England.
Another World Cup winner to play for the Lions before plying his trade for England was Will Greenwood and Robinson is predicting some left-field decisions by Warren Gatland for the tour Down Under.
Robinson, who toured with the Lions in 2001 and 2005, was impressed with Joseph's contribution for England during last summer's tour to South Africa.
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The Exile has fallen down the England pecking order in recent months, Manu Tuilagi, Billy Twelvetrees and Bard Barritt all currently being ahead of him.
But Robinson is convinced the London Irish centre can still book his seat to Australia even if he's currently out of favour with Stuart Lancaster and the England hierarchy and not playing in this year's Six Nations.
"I think it does a lot of good things taking a young, inexperienced player on tour," said Robinson.
"While Jonathan has not been on the scene very long, he's doing the business for London Irish at the moment and that can put the pressure on the senior guys that are expected to take those roles.
"I remember coming in as the wildcard and thinking I have nothing to lose. Nobody expected me to start a test match but I knew I could and everything else took care of itself.
"I was impressed with him against South Africa and he has shown in his short international career that he won't let anyone down.
"And that can create some positivity in the team, so if you get a young lad in like Jonathan who is playing well that will certainly be a good addition to any team.
"When you come up against some of the teams they won't necessarily know who he is and because of that, they won't be afraid of names and reputations.
"I started a Lions test before I started an England test and it was because of that I burst onto the international scene so hopefully Jonathan Joseph can do the same."
Much speculation has surrounded the future of Joseph at the Madejski Stadium next season. Early suggestions predict the England wannabe could ply his trade in the West Country next season.
But whatever happens to his club career, Robinson insists the shot-in-the-arm to his international career caused by a successful tour with the Lions to Australia would be immeasurable.
"The Lions tour is an amazing experience," added Robinson.
"Having played on two it is something you will never forget and it is the ultimate test and challenge.
"Being selected is one thing but coming back with a series win is what everyone is striving for.
"We have got some great players going over and the time is right for the Lions to notch up a series win and I am hopeful they can do that."
2001 British and Irish Lions legend, Jason Robinson is an ambassador for the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens and will be running coaching clinics during the tournament courtesy of HSBC. For more information visit www.rpns7.co.uk/p/hsbc-coaching-clinics