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England forward Calum Clark eager to improve image

Updated: Friday, 11 Jan 2013 09:14 | Comments

Calum Clark is hoping to shrug off his 'dirty player' image
Calum Clark is hoping to shrug off his 'dirty player' image

Calum Clark is determined to prove he belongs in international rugby after being handed an England call-up but knows he will struggle to change perceptions of his character.

The Northampton forward was beckoned back into England contention by head coach Stuart Lancaster on Wednesday when he was called up for the RBS 6 Nations.

Clark, now 23, was on the fringes of the England team this time last year when he was hit with a 32-week ban for breaking the elbow of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins in the LV= Cup final.

He was consequently out of the game from March through to November of last year, but has impressed Lancaster since returning to action for his club.

Clark, aware that views have been formed about him on the basis of his much-scrutinised offence, could now have the chance to show his quality on the Six Nations stage.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I've kept my mouth shut for a long time and people have their opinions of me. It's all been brought back up again, when all I've tried to do is keep my head down and work hard for my team.

"When it happened everyone had a lot to say about it, people formed their opinions there and then. No one really asked me about it, only Judge Jeff Blackett in the hearing.

"Now it's all out there again. I've got to make sure the press is all about me playing rugby, rather than it being talk about being banned. All I've wanted to do is to get back to playing rugby."

Clark is resigned to his reputation, but keen to justify his selection for England duty.

He added: "I'm not going out there to change people's opinion of me, because they will probably already have made their minds up.

"It would be nice to prove them wrong, but those views are formed. I'm going out there for my team and for those who have supported me."

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