IN the aftermath of New Zealand’s late match-winning try against England, Chris Pennell’s debut almost went unnoticed.
The full-back was introduced for the final moments at Eden Park and barely had time to work up a sweat before shaking hands with the opposition.
But, brief though it may have been, it was a momentous moment in the career of Worcester Warriors’ 27-year-old and one that has been richly deserved. It might lead to greater things in Stuart Lancaster’s team. It might not, but nobody will be able to take that first cap away from him.
Relatively speaking, few Worcester players have pulled on the England jersey down the years, which puts Pennell in an elite group.
He has worked tirelessly to earn this recognition, battling back from injury in the past to be a shining light in an otherwise dismal season for Warriors and be elevated to the highest level of the sport.
Coming at a time when Worcestershire cricketer Moeen Ali is poised to make his Test debut for England against Sri Lanka, it is proving to be a good period for local sportsmen.
Both have worked at their games over the years and developed into players that the respective England set-ups could no longer ignore.
Now Pennell and Moeen have made it on to the national radar, it could pave the way for more to follow.
County captain Daryl Mitchell’s name has been mooted for a possible England call-up in the wake of his run-laden start to the LV= County Championship Division Two season.
If nothing else, it should inspire some of the younger players at Sixways and New Road to follow in their footsteps.