Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney believes it is time England gave a chance to Richard Haughton.
The 27-year-old wing played a major part in his side’s 19-10 European Cup quarter-final victory over a heavily-fancied Ospreys side on Sunday.
So far Haughton has represented his country only in seven-a-side games but Gaffney is convinced his jet-heeled performances deserve a bigger stage after he eclipsed Ospreys counterpart Shane Williams, Wales’ leading try-scorer and RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam hero.
Gaffney said: “I have been saying to anyone that will listen that Richard Haughton should be in the England national set-up.
“I have been saying that all year - and I wouldn’t have said it last year because he wasn’t at the required level, even though he has the ability.
“This year he has been one of our most consistent performers. How he is not in the top 64 in England is quite an amazing situation.
“I have nothing against what Shane Williams did but on a one-for-one I have no doubt who won that contest.”
Saracens’ reward for their first European quarter-final victory is a clash with 2006 winners Munster at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena on Sunday, April 27.
Munster over-powered Gloucester, currently the best team in the Premiership, to set up a tie that will see Saracens in the underdog role once again.
Gaffney is confident, however, the euphoria of beating an Ospreys side that demolished them 30-3 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals only two weeks ago will allow his players to believe they can go all the way.
He said: “One of the things that I have tried to get rid of is Saracens having always been the under-achievers.
“I don’t know if that has been partly dispelled by this result but one of the things that was needed at this club was belief and we are seeing that now.
“They need to have that on a constant basis and they have got to believe in each other. Against the Ospreys they went out and supported each other and every one of them could look their team-mates in the eye and say ‘I did the best I could’.”
Gaffney also knows better than anyone Munster are not invincible having suffered near misses in the European Cup during his three-year spell as coach there, including a semi-final loss to Wasps in 2004 when a last-gasp Trevor Leota try gave the visitors a remarkable 37-32 victory.
He said: “I had great times there - and was beaten in two semis and one quarter-final. The great game against Wasps was one of the semis and we were beaten 13-12 by Toulouse in Toulouse, which was a neutral venue - I never quite worked that one out.
“Then the year Ronan (O’Gara) didn’t play with injury we were beaten by Biarritz in the quarters.
“I enjoyed every bit of the time I had in Munster, who have come a long way forward since then. They have a more rounded, balanced team and a lot more fire-power in the midfield.”