Vickery vows to fight for England recall
August 18, 2010
Will we see Phil Vickery in an England shirt again? © Getty Images
Veteran Wasps prop Phil Vickery has refused to close the door on his international career despite missing out on the latest England senior squad.
The 34-year-old tight-head is fit again after undergoing a fourth neck operation last season but he was left out of the latest 32-man senior England squad announced last month. However, Vickery, who captained England to the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, has told manager Martin Johnson that for as long as he is playing he will always be available for his country.
"Of course I want to be involved again. I never want to retire," Vickery said. "If you are playing well enough and Martin Johnson rings you up with the opportunity to play for England I will never say 'sorry, I have retired from international rugby'. That doesn't wash with me.
"We had a good chat before he announced his squad. I think he is happy with what he has got there. I didn't get any indication in the tone of the conversation that it's all over (for me). I am looking forward to the start of the season and hopefully playing well and showing consistency so when old monobrow looks at his squad again (before the autumn internationals) I might be in consideration.
"He might say he is happy with what he has got. You have got to accept that. I have always said I never want to be one of those blokes who becomes bitter and twisted about it. As long as people are honest I can deal with it."
Dan Cole made the England tight-head jersey his own on England's summer tour, while David Wilson, Paul Doran-Jones and the returning Matt Stevens will all be competing for World Cup selection. Vickery's long-term sights are set on playing in a fourth tournament, having enjoyed one of the best experiences of his career as England defied the odds to reach the 2007 World Cup final.
"The World Cup is such a fantastic thing to be part of," said Vickery. "I enjoyed the last one 10 times more than the one before - the whole journey, the players and everything that happened was just the best seven weeks of my life. Something I shall never forget. It was so well planned in 2003 - we were winning all the time. We went into 2007 without much going for us. The guys worked so hard and pulled together.
"There were some great characters and it was a dream really, just a shame we couldn't finish it off. Of course you would love to be involved in the World Cup but if not then you just accept it. I have had an amazing England career. I have 72 caps more than I ever dreamed of. I have played in three World Cups, won one, captained England to the final in another. "I have played over the world with the best players and against the best players. I was part of some of the most memorable rugby matches. I have been on two Lions tour. I have no regrets."
First-team coach Shaun Edwards believes Vickery's return to full fitness will be a major boost to Wasps' Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup title hopes.
"With the return of so many experienced players who last year were in the treatment room last year - Phil Vickery, Simon Shaw, the captain Tom Rees - we have a very mature team," said Edwards. "They all have the bit between their teeth and that will be important because experienced teams win things. Mature rugby teams are usually the teams that win things and we have that air of maturity about us."