Red hot Joseph thriving on Test stage

  • Three tries in two RBS 6 Nations games for in-form Bath centre
  • "It's been an amazing two weeks" says Joseph 

Transferring red hot club form to Test rugby can prove to be a puzzlingly insurmountable challenge for some. But seemingly not so for 23 year-old Jonathan Joseph, whose blistering brace against Italy on his first start at Twickenham Stadium made it three tries in two RBS 6 Nations fixtures.

The clamour for Joseph to be given a chance intensified after a try-scoring, man-of-the-match performance as Bath Rugby trounced French giants Toulouse 35-18 in January, and the centre has duly delivered.

After skinning a trio of would-be tacklers en route to a dazzling try for the second successive game, Joseph said: “I’m over the moon, it’s the greatest feeling.

“I just feel lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s brilliant to play alongside these boys, the best boys in country. I’m playing with some very talented guys who can put me into space, hopefully I can do the same for them.

“For the first one George [Ford] gave me the ball flat on the line and I got on the outside of one of their players and then I had a two-on-one. I thought I would put Anthony [Watson] away but then the defender went onto Anthony so I had to carry on and run it in.

“And then the second one was all George, he manipulated the defence so well and the hole was absolutely huge, all I had to do was run through it and then dot the ball down.”

There is an element of restraint in those descriptions. The way Joseph stood-up and beat unfortunate Italy fly half Kelly Haimona in one movement before accelerating away from the defence was a jump-out-of-your-seat moment for the capacity crowd.

It was also a moment of relief after a slow England start, punctuated by defensive errors and missed tackles, had allowed Sergio Parisse to put the visitors into an early lead.

Stuart Lancaster’s side adapted to rejigged backline on 13 minutes after Mike Brown was forced off after a knee to the head – Joseph was still able to influence the game from the right wing – and eventually motored to a 47-17 victory.

Tries were added by Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter, but Joseph said the team must improve ahead of the meeting with unbeaten Ireland.

The only teams with two wins from two in the 2015 Championship meet in Dublin on 1 March and the eight-cap man said: “The start wasn’t great for us and defensively we were a bit soft. We didn’t show the intent that we needed to and going into Ireland we’re definitely going to have to bring that.

“We’re going to have to go up a few notches. We let them get on top of us a little bit early on. Defensively, we were numbers down and we didn’t do the right things. For us it’s about getting that right, we’ll train hard next week and the week after.

“There are definitely positives to take, especially in attack, but still I think there is a lot more to come from us.”

Joseph ended with a word on the creative talents and innate game awareness of Bath teammate and fly half Ford, who has made a similarly smooth adaptation to Test rugby at the tender age of 21.

Ford boasts a record of four wins from four England starts and after assisting both his tries on Saturday, Joseph added: “He’s amazing, more often than not if you’re outside him then he’s going to create something for you. For me, being on the wing, I was just lurking around wherever he was going and making sure I was near him.

“After playing with him at Bath I did honestly expected him to make the transition to international rugby so quickly. He’s so intelligent on the rugby pitch, he’s got such an old brain on him for a player of his age.”