REMARKABLY, the superb form of Aviva Premiership player-of-the-year nominee Chris Pennell has not even been rewarded with a phone call from the England coaching set-up.
Worcester’s talismanic full-back has played every single minute of Warriors’ 20 league matches this term, barely putting a foot wrong throughout that time.
However, he revealed that, although he is desperate to represent his country, he has not yet been spoken to by any of the Red Rose selectors.
Being nominated alongside current incumbent of the England number 15 jersey Mike Brown as one of the best six players in the Premiership this term by a panel of experts suggests Pennell is right up there.
Yet, it appears the fact he has been limited to being a shining beacon of hope in Worcester’s otherwise dismal campaign, rather than mixing it in the upper echelons of the Premiership and the Heineken Cup, has not been enough to persuade the England top-brass that he deserves further recognition.
He smiled: “It was nice that I have been included alongside Mike on the Aviva Premiership player-of-the-year shortlist – if only that was the England selection!
“I have not had any contact with the England set-up though. You see the odd thing in the press saying that I should be considered, but I’ve never had anything from the coaches themselves.
“Maybe I’ve got a part to play in that as well and perhaps I should be a little more pro-active, get on the phone and chase them up as opposed to everyone saying they should be in touch with me.
“With a home World Cup fast approaching, it would be an absolute dream to be involved and I don’t think that will change until the day I hang up my boots, even if I am a 34-year-old veteran!”
Pennell’s chances of being involved in next year’s World Cup would be all but nil if he is plying his trade in the second tier next term, which looks pretty much certain given Worcester’s dire position with two games to go.
If a miraculous great escape is not possible, then Pennell will face a tough decision. Worcester born-and-bred, the 27-year-old full-back signed a new three-year deal at Sixways in December.
However, fellow Worcester academy product Alex Grove was in a similar position when Warriors were last relegated in 2010 as he looked to keep his Scotland ambitions alive.
The three-times-capped centre signed a new long-term deal with Worcester despite their drop into the Championship, but it was then announced he would be joining Edinburgh on loan, thereby keeping himself firmly in the international shop window.
It remains possible that Pennell could be contemplating a similar move and he was coy when questioned on the subject.
He said: “A loan move has not been a conversation and my primary focus is on tomorrow’s game at Saracens.
“If it does get confirmed that we are relegated, then I’d never close the door on those conversations but, as far as I’m concerned, I’m contracted here next season and the two seasons after that. That is where my focus is at the moment and trying to finish this season on a high.”
With Pennell in the form of his life and the prospect of a World Cup on home soil looming, no-one could begrudge him a loan move if the opportunity arose.