Hape makes way for next generation

SHONTAYNE Hape accepts his England career has run its course as new interim head coach Stuart Lancaster plans a Six Nations overhaul.

Hape, 30, will not retire from Test duty but he believes the time is right for Lancaster to blood the next generation of centres.

Lancaster will name England’s 32-man Six Nations squad on 11 January, and it could feature up to 17 players who did not appear at the World Cup.

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“It is time to start rebuilding for the next World Cup,” Hape said. “It is time for the young guys to step up and take charge and get that experience of playing in big games.

“I got to win the Six Nations, which was a treat, and I think it is time for the young guys to experience that. You have to start looking at the new breed coming through.

“The only way they learn is if you play them. I am a big believer in chucking young players in there to see what they can do. On the way, if older guys are selected to help out, then so be it. I wouldn’t say no if I was selected, but I wouldn’t be hanging my hat on it.”

Hape reflects on 2011 with mixed emotions. He helped England win their first Six Nations title in eight years and was selected for the Rugby World Cup. But it very soon became clear Hape was out of favour with the England management and he played just one game – the pool match against Georgia in which he scored two tries.

Hape had been desperate to play Eden Park, the stadium where his late grandfather had played cricket, but he was never given the chance.

“The way it turned out was sad, the way we ended up losing,” Hape said.

“But if that was my last game for England then so be it – I would still be a happy man.”