Dylan Hartley has expressed his delight and pride at Teimana Harrison being handed his England debut in Sunday’s match against Wales at Twickenham.
Speaking to the England Rugby Podcast, England captain Hartley said: “I think it’s a hell of a story.
“Four or five years ago I saw Tei play 1st XV rugby. His coach asked me to come down and watch him. He said that there was a young lad with an English passport, an English father, who had expressed an interest to play rugby in Northampton and try and play for England one day.
“I could see him playing Premiership rugby but never, never, never did I predict he would be pulling on an England shirt at the age of 23. He’s come on leaps and bound in all walks of life and I’m really proud of him.
"I think everyone at Northampton and in Rotorua probably knew about his raw talent. It’s only this year though that the rest of the country has got to see it."
Meanwhile, England coach Eddie Jones has urged Harrison to take his England opportunity when he makes his debut against Wales on Sunday.
Harrison will start at blindside flanker with James Haskell at open side and Jack Clifford at number eight. Speaking to England Rugby TV, Jones has clearly been impressed with what Harrison has to offer: “He’ll play with Haskell and Jack Clifford so it’s a great opportunity for him.
“He’s a hard working player, likes the contest and has got some good ball running skills so he gives us another great option in the back row.“