Harlequins' Matt Hopper relishing Saxons opportunity
Harlequins' centre Matt Hopper says being selected for the England Saxons team has capped off a 'whirlwind' first season in the Premiership.
Exeter-born Hopper joined Quins from Championship side Cornish Pirates in the summer and has established himself in the Premiership's top side since making his first start in November.
"I'm obviously really happy to get the call," said 26-year-old Hopper.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind over the last few months."
And the former Plymouth Albion man says he is looking forward to the chance to play in front of a home-town crowd.
"I'll have a lot of family and friends watching and playing at Exeter is a nice bonus for me. Just to be part of it is really something," he continued.
The Saxons will play at Exeter Chiefs' Sandy Park ground, and it is a club that Hopper knows well having come up through the junior ranks, while his father Keith captained the club in the 1960's.
Hopper took his chance to establish himself in Harlequins' midfield after George Lowe injured his ankle in an LV=Cup game against sale in October.
He made his first start against Gloucester three weeks later, scoring a try and becoming an ever-present on the teamsheet ever since.
"I've always had confidence in my own ability and what I could do," he said.
"I've been lucky in as much that an unfortunate injury to George Lowe opened the door for me to get a run of games.
"I'm very grateful for Quins for giving me the chance and I hope I've repaid them over the last couple of months.
"Last year was a good one at Pirates, then I had a chat with Conor (O'Shea) and Tofty (Mark Mapletoft) and they told me about Harlequins and their plans.
"They sold it pretty well and Quins are playing a really exciting brand of rugby.
"So far there have been plenty of highlights, making my first start in the Heineken Cup against Gloucester, playing at Twickenham in front of 80,000 and winning away at Toulouse was the most special. I'm sure it'll go down in the club's history."