Riki Flutey has set his sights on making rugby history this summer by becoming the first man ever to play for and against the British and Irish Lions.
The former New Zealand Maori representative came off the bench for Wellington in a 23-6 defeat to Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions in 2005 before pursuing a club career in the Guinness Premiership.
Flutey has become increasingly influential in Martin Johnson’s England team since making his debut in November after completing a three-year residency period.
And after scoring twice in last Sunday’s 34-10 demolition of France, the Wasps centre is now being talked about as a potential candidate for the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa.
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan - Flutey’s boss at Wasps - will finalise the make-up of his touring party next month.
Flutey said: “I am all about playing consistently good rugby for England and if I can keep that up then hopefully other things will fall into place.
“Every player playing in the Six Nations who is eligable for the Lions I am sure has it in the back of their minds because at the end of the day it is the ultimate goal.
“In 2005 I played against the Lions for Wellington and that was a fantastic occasion. The Lions are well respected and it is huge in New Zealand. I remember as a kid my father had all the old Lions tapes.”
Flutey would not be the first Lion born outside of the British Isles. A century ago Tom Richards settled in Britain after playing for Australia on their 1908 tour and he was called up for the 1910 Lions in South Africa.
Graham Henry coached the Lions in 2001 and masterminded New Zealand’s series win over Woodward’s tourists in 2005 - but Lions historians cannot find an example of a player who has done the same thing.
The Lions inside centre jersey is up for grabs and Flutey’s rivals for one of the tour berths would include Wales duo Gavin Henson and Jamie Roberts plus Ireland’s Gordon D’Arcy.
Although he took time to find his feet on the international stage as England struggled through a tough autumn campaign, Flutey has become increasingly assured during the RBS Six Nations.
He was impressive in England’s narrow defeat to Wales and one of their stand-out performers against France last weekend. Another big game against Scotland on Saturday will only strengthen his case.
“I got quite a big shock in the first couple of games for England,” said Flutey.
“I am all about communicating and playing in front of such fantastic crowds you can hardly hear each other on the pitch. You are often yelling for lost causes.
“In the autumn we were a group of guys who had come together, we had new attacking formations and defensive plays. Sometimes it can take a bit of time.
“I feel I am becoming more confident and comfortable in my role.”