The trajectory of Shaun Perry's career bears more than a little resemblance to one of the arrowed passes that yesterday earned him a call-up to the England side to face the All Blacks on Sunday.

A split-second lapse while he grasps the ball in his muscular grip after which he sends it scudding, in a tight spiral, perfectly into his fly half's hands.

So he has emerged at Dudley Kingswinford, dwelled momentarily and then raced through Coventry and Bristol before settling at the heart of the national side.

Put simply Perry, a man who less than 18 months ago was a welder in Tipton, is now the nerve centre of Andy Robinson's team and destined to be a star in next year's World Cup. The adjective 'meteoric' only begins to describe his rise.

But as the scrum half walks out on to the meadows of Twickenham this weekend and pits himself against 15 of the best rugby players on the planet, amidst all the hyperbole there will be a valiant Black Country heart beating beneath the Red Rose on his broad chest.

That pride will be felt just as keenly at Heathbrook, home of Midlands One side Dudley Kingswinford, where the 28-year-old spent his formative rugby years.

Perry, born in Wolverhampton, charged his way through the junior ranks at DK and was introduced into the first XV at the relatively young age of 18 — when he was a first-year colt.

And although then-director of rugby Gordon Bannatyne knew the teenager was something of a rough diamond, even he was taken aback at the self-confidence with which Perry grasped his chance.

"We were in Midlands Two then, we took him away on a pre-season weekend to Lilleshall and I asked one of the senior players to keep an eye on him," recalled Bannatyne. "But within a matter of hours of arriving, he was calling the shots — he wasn't frightened."

The Scot, who will bury traditional enmities to support his former charge for the weekend, maintains Perry is the best player his club have ever produced. "No matter what level he has played at, he has always stood out — the step was never too big for Shaun," he continued. "He was always a shining light when we played in National Three.

"Going round the other clubs like Tynedale, they would always say how lucky we were to have a player like him.

"He is totally dedicated. When it came to training, he would work very hard; after the other guys had gone, he would stay on to practise his box-kicking or passing off his weaker hand. He is a likeable lad but he was always extremely competitive in training."

Perry eventually severed the apron strings in 2003 — several years too late, according to many local commentators — and moved to Coundon Road.

After a slow start, Perry played a starring role in Coventry's fight against relegation that season and scored the clinching try in the last-day do-or-die showdown with Wakefield.

But when Steve Williams and Mike Umaga joined and the club moved to Butts Park Arena, Perry enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, hauling his team on a long unbeaten run and inspiring them to play some of their best rugby in many years.

Umaga, who was Perry’s backs coach, recalls clearly the first time he encountered the barrel-shaped half-back.

"The first time I saw him, I thought he was a front rower," said Umaga. "A couple of days later at training, we broke off into a backs drill and when he came over with us, I thought ‘Wow, what are you doing here?’"

It didn’t take Perry long to prove his worth to Umaga. All the physical attributes and most of the mental were there.

The scorching pace off the mark, the fizzing pass, constant sniping around the fringes and wondrous cover-tackling. He just needed to learn how to be a top No 9.

"Everything was in place, but we had to teach him to be a facilitator and not just an instigator," said Umaga. "In the second half of that season, we put some quality players around him and he was able to just concentrate on doing his job. That’s when he took off."

Coventry were desperate to keep him but, as much as they enjoyed his scintillating performance against Richard Hill’s Bristol in a National One game, it turned out to be the display that led him away from the region.

Hill, a former England scrum half, had seen enough to offer Perry a two-year contract. He turned off his blowtorch for the last time and relocated to the Memorial Stadium.

Within a matter of months, he was earning rave reviews from television pundits and won a call-up for England A in February. A typically combative effort won him the captaincy against Ireland A, during which he was his side’s best player.

Robinson had seen enough and tried to call him up for the Six Nations match against France after Matt Dawson’s withdrawal, only for Perry’s phone to be turned off.

No matter, he’d get his debut during the summer tour to Australia only for a fractured wrist to rule him out. That didn’t stop Hill offering an improved three-year contract.

This season, Perry’s performances have taken Bristol to the top of the Premiership and if he continues to progress at the same rate, they could take England to the top of the world. Not bad for a lad from Dudley.

>> BRIAN DICK: Perry justifies club system