England get their Voyce back

Tom Voyce returns to representative rugby for the first time in a year determined to rekindle an England career which was brought to a sudden and painful halt last summer. [more]

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Tom Voyce returns to representative rugby for the first time in a year determined to rekindle an England career which was brought to a sudden and painful halt last summer.

The Wasps winger has enjoyed virtually unparalleled club success, winning two Guinness Premierships, two Heineken Cups and the Powergen Cup over the last four seasons.

But at England level the 26-year-old has remained a fringe player – and just when he thought he was making progress came last summer’s first Test against the Wallabies.

England’s young team were humbled 34-3, Voyce endured a nightmare evening on the wing and fell from Andy Robinson’s plans so fast that he was dropped for the second Test and did not even make the 55-man elite squad at the start of this season.

Voyce initially struggled to rationalise his sharp fall from grace and even a change in England coaches, from Robinson to Brian Ashton, did not signal a change in fortune.

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But after year of hard graft – he has missed just one game for Wasps all season – Voyce was rewarded with a place in the England Saxons side to face Scotland A at Twickenham and a possible route back to senior selection.

"For me it is just good to be back in the England system and getting that opportunity to have England next to my name again," said Voyce.

"It is a good opportunity to finish my season off on a high and show the Saxons what I have been doing week in and week out for Wasps.

"I couldn’t be happier with my club career. I am really proud to have won so much at the age of 26 but internationally there is still a hell of a lot to achieve.

"I thought last year was the start when I was involved in the end of the autumn internationals, then during the Six Nations and onto the tour. But then it was abruptly stopped.

"Andy Robinson phoned me the day before he announced the EPS squad and said he wasn’t going to pick me in it. I was gob-smacked. It hit me quite hard.

"I was disappointed because last year I was nominated as player of the season and I was in the Premiership team of the season.

"I found it really hard to understand how one game against Australia had taken away all that. It was all diminished because of that game. I had a meeting with Andy and said: ‘I can’t quite understand it’. He told me what I needed to improve.

"I just concentrated on doing that, on enjoying my club rugby and winning the Heineken Cup with Wasps. It’s a cliche but I tried to do my talking on the pitch because that is where you are seen."

The Twickenham clash represents the first step back on the England ladder for Voyce and his chance to break into Ashton’s pre-World Cup training squad.

"Brian has his team and I am not part of that at the moment. I have had to work really hard just to get into the Saxons squad," said Voyce.

"The only way for me to get involved is to put in some good performances on the pitch. If I can do that then my phone is always on."

Voyce returns to Twickenham along with three of his Wasps colleagues – James Haskell, Paul Sackey and Danny Cipriani – just eight days after they produced a stunning performance in defeating treble-chasing Leicester 25-9.

"You can walk into the training ground, hold your head high and stick out your chest a little bit because you have win the European Cup twice," said Voyce.

"People look up to you a little more – most people are just glad we beat Leicester and stopped them from winning the treble!"

At stake is a place in the Barclays Churchill Cup final against either Ireland A or the New Zealand Maori after both the Saxons and Scotland A opened with victories over the USA.

England surged to a 51-3 victory while the Scots toughed out a 13-9 win.

But Voyce said: "Scotland will be a very different prospect after that USA game. It will have been a bit of a disappointment for them but they have made a lot of changes and there will be players who want to prove a point."

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