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England could have two new players, Woodward and Ackermann

by 15/09/2017 19:59:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Gloucester's Jason Woodward and Ruan Ackermann will be eligible for England
  • Ackermann, who's native tongue is Afrikaans, will have to wait until 2020 
  • Woodward, born in New Zealand, revealed his desire to play for the England 

By Will Kelleher For The Daily Mail

Published: 17:30 EDT, 15 September 2017 | Updated: 19:59 EDT, 15 September 2017

England could soon have two more foreign-born players in their ranks, with Gloucester pair Jason Woodward and Ruan Ackermann looking to woo Eddie Jones.

Ackermann, a 21-year-old No.8 is the son of new Cherry & Whites head coach Johan – a former Springbok with 13 caps.

Ruan joined Gloucester only three weeks ago and has no English ancestry. His native tongue is Afrikaans so had to complete a government English language test on arrival in this country to be granted a visa.

South African Ruan Ackermann (right) will qualify to play for England in September 2020 
South African Ruan Ackermann (right) will qualify to play for England in September 2020 

South African Ruan Ackermann (right) will qualify to play for England in September 2020 

He is not yet captured by South Africa and will qualify for England in September 2020, three months before the residency period is upped to five years, if he stays in this country.

And while he is keeping his options open, he revealed to Sportsmail he has the blessing of his South African father to choose his nationality.

'Either way he would be proud,' he said.

'Playing for a national team is a big achievement so he would be proud. Obviously your heart is with the Springboks, growing up, seeing your dad play for them.

'If the opportunity comes to play for the Boks I think I'll grab it, but if the opportunity comes with England, yes I will grab it as well.

Jason Woodward is eligible to play for England through his English grandmother 
Jason Woodward is eligible to play for England through his English grandmother 

Jason Woodward is eligible to play for England through his English grandmother 

He continued: 'My dad said: ''just enjoy your rugby, we can only play for so long.'' If I play for England or the Boks he will be proud. He has given me that go-ahead.

'At the moment I am keeping my options open and seeing how everything goes.

'It is only the third week, but it is an opportunity if I stay. England is a great nation. You never know, only time will tell with that.'

Ackermann would have to return to South Africa to play for his native nation. They have a rule precluding players from plying their trade abroad and representing the Springboks unless they have already accrued 30 caps or more.

Meanwhile Woodward, a 27-year-old fullback born in New Zealand, has also exclusively told Sportsmail of his desire to wear the red rose of England.

He qualifies via his grandmother, who was born and raised in London, and activated a relegation release clause in his contract at Bristol this summer to leave and join Gloucester.

Woodward (centre) tackles Harlequins' Marland Yarde during  their clash with Harlequins
Woodward (centre) tackles Harlequins' Marland Yarde during  their clash with Harlequins

Woodward (centre) tackles Harlequins' Marland Yarde during  their clash with Harlequins

Jones picked him in two training camps at the end of last season, when the majority of his charges were absent due to club playoff commitments or the Lions tour.

And now Woodward has his sights firmly set on breaking into the England squad.

'I would take immense pride putting on an England jersey if it was to happen one day,' he said.

'It is something I work hard for and aspire to do.'

Woodward spent five months at Hartpury College, where Gloucester now train, on an exchange programme with his Wellington school aged 17 before returning on a scholarship to study a Sports science, coaching & conditioning degree.

He met his girlfriend, who he now lives with, at the college and says he is passionate about playing for England despite growing up as a Kiwi.

Both Woodward and Ackermann are looking to impress current England boss Eddie Jones 
Both Woodward and Ackermann are looking to impress current England boss Eddie Jones 

Both Woodward and Ackermann are looking to impress current England boss Eddie Jones 

'It was definitely part of the reason why my partner and I decided to move back here – to chase the dream,' he added.

'I guess people can say what they want. For me personally having roots over here, having lived and played over here for a couple of years, I have got some of my best friends over here, it is home.

'You look across any sport in the world, people move, people travel. You look at the All Blacks, there are a lot of Island-born players, Australia too, and across other codes. It is the 21st century.'

Both players are set to feature for Gloucester at Leicester today.

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