Teen sensation Mathew Tait has been backed to cope with 'whatever is thrown at him' after being selected for England's RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Wales.
Tait will become the youngest England debutant since his Newcastle colleague Jonny Wilkinson almost seven years ago when he runs out at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
It completes a staggering rise from schoolboy star to the Test match arena in barely 12 months.
Tait, 19 next Sunday, is still a Premiership rookie with just 11 league appearances under his belt, but both England boss Andy Robinson and Newcastle rugby director Rob Andrew are convinced he has got what it takes.
A product of the same rugby academy as Andrew at Barnard Castle School in Durham, Tait will be partnered in the centre by Falcons team-mate colleague Jamie Noon, who takes over from Henry Paul.
Gloucester playmaker and former rugby league star Paul is dropped following his 26th-minute substitution when England lost to Australia at Twickenham last November.
Other changes from the team beaten by Australia at Twickenham last November see World Cup scrum-half Matt Dawson recalled instead of Andy Gomarsall, Leicester lock Ben Kay replacing Steve Borthwick and Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell making his first RBS 6 Nations start.
Hazell will feature at openside flanker, with Lewis Moody moving to the blindside role and Wasps' Joe Worsley lining up at number eight.
Robinson goes into his first RBS 6 Nations game at the helm without the injured Wilkinson, Mike Tindall, Will Greenwood, Stuart Abbott, Richard Hill and Martin Corry.
But both Noon and Hazell have both been selected despite suffering injury scares during the latest round of Premiership action.
Dawson (calf strain) and Moody (hamstring) rested injuries at the weekend and did not play for their clubs.
Tait's remarkable elevation though, is the major talking point as England prepare for fierce examinations against Wales, France and Ireland during a 23-day period.
''Mathew's call-up comes after a meteoric rise in the last year, and let's not forget that at this time last season, he was still playing schoolboy rugby for Barnard Castle,'' said Andrew.
''The amazing confidence he has shown in his short time with us so far, suggests that he can cope with whatever is thrown at him, although we should not forget how far he has come in a short space of time.
''He is only 18 years old, and must be allowed time to develop at the highest level.
''But, having seen the way he has played for the Falcons this season and the attitude he has demonstrated, I am sure he can make an impact.''
In selecting Tait as the 14th-youngest England international of all time, Robinson has taken a leaf out of his predecessor Sir Clive Woodward's book, whose view was that if a player was good enough, then he was old enough.
''I have never been afraid to select young talented players if I feel they are ready,'' said Robinson.
''Mathew Tait has demonstrated to me he has the form and speed to earn his place in the starting XV. I congratulate him on earning his first England cap.
''He will be playing alongside his club-mate Jamie Noon, which is something he will be familiar with.''
Despite the inexperience of players like Tait and Noon, plus a lengthy casualty list, Robinson can still parade several established international names, notably Dawson, skipper Jason Robinson, prop Graham Rowntree and lock Danny Grewcock.
Dawson, England's most capped scrum-half, returns to the fold after Robinson demoted him from the elite player group last September when his television commitments as a team captain on Question of Sport assumed priority over a national squad session.
''Selecting the scrum-half position was a close call,'' admitted Robinson.
''However, I have decided to start Matt Dawson, who has shown great form for his club and can offer tremendous experience, with Harry Ellis on the bench.''
The unfortunate Gomarsall misses out completely, and Robinson's ''close call'' verdict will be of little consolation.
''Selection for the team to play Wales was very close indeed, with several players close to making the starting XV,'' said the coach.
''Obviously, injuries were also a factor in the selection process, but I am confident this is a strong team to face Wales on Saturday.''
Elsewhere, Leicester forward Kay will make his first England start since last season's Six Nations, although Borthwick can consider himself unlucky to be relegated to the bench, while Hazell, Tait, Noon and wing Mark Cueto have no championship experience at all.
Ellis and Borthwick apart, the bench also includes fit-again World Cup prop Phil Vickery and his uncapped Gloucester colleague, back-row forward James Forrester.
The biggest worry for Robinson surrounds Grewcock, who could still overshadow Test week by facing a possible citing after stamping on Lawrence Dallaglio during Bath's Premiership victory against Wasps two days ago.
If a complaint is lodged against Grewcock by the Rugby Football Union's independent citing officer - he has until Wednesday night to decide - then Grewcock could not play international rugby until the case is heard.