England hooker Lee Mears is backing Bath Rugby team-mate Shontayne Hape to shine when the dual-code centre makes his international union debut on Sunday.

Hape, who left Super League side Bradford Bulls two years ago to have a crack at the 15-man game, will start in the number 12 shirt when England take on the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Although a non-cap fixture, the call-up to the starting XV is just reward for Hape’s patience and endeavour.

The 29-year-old was a member of Martin Johnson’s squad throughout the Six Nations but never made it into the matchday squad. He was given a seat on the bench for the opening match against Wales but a vomiting bug forced him to pull out.

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