For the first time in what seems like decades, but is actually only three years, the West Midlands has a legitimate interest in the RBS Six Nations.

THe tournament begin at the weekend and, although they have not made the starting XVs, two local lads may yet have a considerable part to play as the storyline unfolds over the next seven weeks.

Hoping to be clad in the white is Worcester’s Matt Mullan, a former student of Bromsgrove School and one of the brightest hopes in the English game.

And on the bench for Scotland is Alex Grove, Solihull-raised and another in-mate of the Sixways institution. Both have done extremely well to rise above the mediocrity that seems to pervade that particular club.

Not since Shaun Perry was scampering behind England’s pack in 2007 has the region been able to claim anything like as strong a link with the best competition in sport and even that was compromised by the fact Dudley’s finest played for Bristol at the time.

Throw into the cocktail the fact that Tom Wood, as Coventry as they come, and Miles Benjamin – another Silhillian, though educated at King Edward’s, Edgbaston – made their debuts for the Saxons last weekend and it seems a new generation of local talent has bubbled to the surface.

I accept that we are still some way short of Moseley fielding ten internationals in the same team but it’s a start and after so many barren years that shouldn’t be sniffed at.

It’s just a shame that Mullan hasn’t been thrown in at the deep end. There have been chastening experiences in the young loosehead’s burgeoning career, though not many.

But the mark of the man is that he has come back stronger and wiser from each one. He surely represents the future more than Tim Payne, the powderpuff Wasp who was so easily decapitated by baby Dan Cole a few weeks ago.

Ask yourself which is more likely to play at next year’s World Cup and then try to fathom Martin Johnson’s thinking. Expediency clearly stalks him with as much resolve as a coach as it did as a player.

Nevertheless, for a lad from Solihull, Johnson has done alright for himself, let’s hope the new generation do half as well.