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Rugby - boost for UKFast sponsored Hodgson

Sale Sharks director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre says Charlie Hodgson is the perfect man to lead England's assault on the RBS Six Nations.

Hodgson will play at fly-half against Wales on Saturday with Jonny Wilkinson ruled out through injury.

"Charlie improves each week with Sale and will definitely do a good job for England," Saint-Andre told BBC Sport.

"He has so much flair, his defence is much, much stronger and his decision-making is getting better."

And Saint-Andre dismissed Rob Andrew's claims that Hodgson is merely "very, very good" compared to Wilkinson, who he described as a "great" player.

Andrew, Newcastle director of rugby, made his comments after Wilkinson helped the Falcons to victory over Sale with a late try and conversion at the start of January.

However, Wilkinson has since been sidelined by a knee injury which has left the way open for Hodgson to take the number 10 jersey against Wales in Cardiff.

"It's easy to say Charlie is a good player and Jonny is a great player, but rugby is much more than that," Saint-Andre added.

"It depends so much on the 14 guys that play all around you and if my centre didn't fall down in injury time we would have won that game.

"Jonny Wilkinson wouldn't have scored that last-minute try and we would have won the game. Maybe then people would have had to say Charlie was a great player and Jonny was just a good player.

"But it's good for England. They have two world class fly-halves who both have a lot of quality and different strengths."

Former French international captain Saint-Andre is relishing a Six Nations tournament he describes as potentially "very open and exciting".

However, he believes France will struggle to hold onto their title, particularly with a game against Hodgson and co at Twickenham in the second round of matches on 13 February.

"There's so much strength in French rugby, as you can see from their club performances in the Heineken Cup, but it will be difficult for them," Saint-Andre said.

"Their fixtures are not the best with them having to play away in Dublin and away at Twickenham and I think England have the quality to beat them.

"Last year France had a good fixture list and won the Grand Slam. This year that should work to the benefit of England or Ireland."

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