CAPE TOWN – South African-born loose forward Michael Rhodes says it would be a “dream come true” if he were to earn England selection once he qualifies in July.
After his schooling at Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal, Rhodes spent his junior rugby career at the Sharks before moving to the Lions and then eventually the Stormers, where he quickly established himself as a key figure in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.
However, Rhodes then took the opportunity to join Saracens ahead of the 2015-16 season, and would go on to play a key role as the English club clinched the Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup double.
Having made the No 6 jersey his own at Saracens, Rhodes is now close to completing his three-year residency qualification, and can be considered for English selection after July.
Rhodes told The Telegraph that he wouldn't hesitate to grab the opportunity to play for his adopted country.
“I haven’t done any proper research into it, I’ve just heard it’s a three-year rule and I have been here since July 2015. It’s not something I’ve really focused on. If it happened, it would be a dream come true, but if it doesn’t happen, so be it.
“I’m not holding on to any hopes of playing for the Springboks, but I would definitely take the chance [of playing for England]. England are really hitting their straps, and it would be nice to test myself at the highest level. I would jump at the chance, for sure.”
Rhodes could certainly add utility value to the England squad considering he is also capable of playing at lock, and so there is clearly everything to play for as the 30-year-old continues to make his return to action after a lengthy injury layoff including a fourth operation on his collarbone.
Rhodes completed his comeback as he played a starring role in Saracens’ 46-31 victory over Worcester Warriors over the weekend.
“I had 20 minutes last week and 80 today (Saturday). It’s so far, so good. I’ve been out for a long time now and there’s nothing like match fitness,” he commented.
“Getting into the second half of the season I’ll be looking to string some 60 and 80-minute performances together, get the lungs [working] and hopefully we can bring some silverware home at the end of it.”