London Irish pride at Jonathan Joseph England call

Jonathan Joseph

London Irish boss Brian Smith believes Jonathan Joseph can establish himself as an England regular after the young centre was handed his first start.

Joseph, 21, will partner Manu Tuilagi in Saturday's second Test against South Africa and Smith feels he will be at ease on the international stage.

"We are so proud of him here at London Irish," Smith told BBC Berkshire.

"I don't think there will be any problems making the step up. He is a class act and a world class player."

Joseph made his debut on Saturday late on and almost made a try-winning break in the few minutes he was on the pitch.

His form last season has already earned comparisons with England centre Jeremy Guscott and Smith feels that is not an unfair compliment.

"It's great news for London Irish, great news for JJ and great news for England," he said.

"JJ can provide that cutting edge for England in midfield. He has proved that in the Premiership and hopefully he can replicate that for England.

"I think with Mike Catt (backs coach) joining England they will try and play a little bit more expansively. He is looking for players who can do a little bit more and JJ has the wheels to do that.

"He has had no problems with stepping up to the Premiership and showed within minutes on Saturday he can handle international rugby. Who knows what would have happened had he been on for 20 minutes on Saturday.

"JJ has been on the radar for some time at London Irish since the age of 14 coming through the Elite Playing Group. He is a special talent.

"The question mark was always how long it was going to take for him to translate that talent through to senior rugby at Premiership level and at Test match level. The answer is not very long.

"He is a player of Jeremy Guscott quality and I can see him forming a partnership with Manu Tuilagi for a very long time.

"It is difficult for a player to come from the bench in his first Test, but JJ is a very laid back guy and he took to it very well. He will be into it straight away."

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