VIDEO: Number 13 slot is still Joseph's centre of attention for England
HE MIGHT have slipped down the England centre pecking order – but Jonathan Joseph insists he is not about to turn his back on the number 13 shirt any time soon.
The Derby-born star broke on to the international scene last summer on the tour of South Africa, where he played in all three Tests, starting two.
He came off the bench to earn his fourth cap in the memorable victory over world champions New Zealand at the end of last year.
But the London Irish man missed out on the match day squad for England's Six Nations opener against Scotland last weekend, being sent back to his club after head coach Stuart Lancaster opted to give a debut to Billy Twelvetrees alongside Bard Barritt in place of the injured Manu Tuilagi.
Joseph has suffered the same fate ahead of this weekend's match against Ireland.
It could be his club's form that is holding him back, the Exiles currently second from bottom in the Aviva Premiership with only three wins to their name.
But Irish have lost only once since the turn of the year and Joseph has proved his versatility during this run by filling in at full-back and scoring a try in the recent Amlin Challenge Cup victory against Bordeaux Begles.
The London Irish director of rugby, Brian Smith, was full of praise for Joseph's full-back credentials after this game but the man himself remains focused on playing at centre.
"I know I have played at full-back for Irish this season and people have spoken about me playing there but it is not something I have really thought about too much," said Joseph, who is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Official partner of the RFU
"I think I can play there. I feel quite comfortable there and on the wing too. And these things are good to have and I think that each position adds something different to my game as well.
"But, for me, I want to cement down that 13 spot and that is my main focus – nothing else right now.
"Being able to play at 15 obviously helps and it is a good attribute to have but 13 is where I want to be.
"Yes, there are a lot of us who want to play in that shirt for England and Stuart Lancaster is not short of options for that spot but that doesn't mean I will throw in the towel – just the opposite."
Joseph admitted it was "hugely disappointing" to miss out on the Scotland match.
"It was tough for sure but obviously having players coming through, pushing each other and having that competition in the squad is always good for improving the squad and every individual involved," he said.
"I bring different things than what Billy brings, than what Brad brings and Manu. We all have different attributes to our game so I am just going to try and improve myself and I am sure the other boys are doing that as well.
"Even though it might be frustrating, ultimately I think it is a good thing for England.
"I think there is a lot of fighting for positions everywhere in the England team now, we are so strong across the board and that is amazing."
Jonathan Joseph is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Official partner of the RFU. Marriott Hotels & Resorts is giving away a two night break in Europe every time England score a try in the RBS 6 Nations. Go to Facebook.com/MarriottHotelsUK for more details.