HE MIGHT be 20-years of age with only 23 senior appearances under his belt in all competitions, but Anthony Allen is relishing the 'fantastic, unbelievable' news he will make his England debut against New Zealand on Sunday.
The Gloucester centre has been named alongside Newcastle's Jamie Noon in England's midfield for their opening autumn international against the All Blacks and he said: "It is obviously a fantastic feeling - pretty unbelievable - and I don't think the news will have time to sink in between now and Sunday.
"It has obviously come around very quickly for me - at the start of the season I was just concentrating on establishing myself at Gloucester - so to be selected for England so quickly is something very special.
"All I can do now is be as professional as I can, keep my head down, listen to the experienced people I have around me and prepare as well as I can for this game.
"It's obviously a massive challenge and to play for your country is fantastic but I just have to concentrate on getting all the small margins in my game right, relax and do a good job.
"The England coaches said my game stepped up against Leinster and again at the weekend as well. They think I am playing well and have picked me on form."
Allen, a former Millfield School pupil, has made eight appearances this season and has scored four tries, including two in Gloucester's Heineken Cup defeat against Agen on Saturday.
He will be joined in the starting line-up by his Gloucester team-mate Iain Balshaw at full-back.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).