March 7 2014 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Thursday, January 9, 2014
David Strettle’s England career looks over after England head coach Stuart Lancaster today ignored the Saracens wing in favour of three rookies named in his Six Nations squad.
The 30-year-old has been in scintillating form this term and he is the current top try-scorer in the Premiership with eight. He won his 14th and last cap in the first Test against Argentina last summer but was replaced by Marland Yarde for the second clash against the Pumas.
The London Irish flyer and Wasps counterpart Christian Wade, both viewed as the long term solutions, and are included in Lancaster’s squad despite almost certainly being ruled out with serious injuries.
That had offered Strettle hope of a Red Rose recall but Lancaster has instead chosen uncapped wings Anthony Watson (Bath) and Jack Nowell (Exeter) plus Gloucester’s one-cap Jonny May.
Saracens’ other regular wide man Chris Ashton also makes the squad as does centre Brad Barritt, who only returned to action a fortnight ago after foot surgery. The Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, plus Owen Farrell and Alex Goode have also all been called up from the Men in Black, while scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth is in the Saxons squad but will also train with the senior side.
“I feel like I’ve kept my side of the bargain,” Strettle told London24 on the eve of today’s 35-man Six Nations squad announcement.
“Like a lot of players that have played well, we are doing all the things that we feel we can do to put ourselves in the shop window.”
A magnanimous Strettle, who was in good mood ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Cup clash at Toulouse, added: “You accept in your career that you’re going to have ups and downs, selection-wise, but when you get picked it’s just somebody’s opinion.
“If you said to every director of rugby in the Premiership, ‘pick your starting England XV’, they’d all be different. There’d be a general basis [of players] but there’d be different players here and there.
“It’s someone’s opinion and, although you want that opinion to view you as the best player, you accept that, if you’re not, opinions can be changed.
“You’ve still got to believe in yourself, go out there and hope your quality shines through.
“When I look at my career, all I can do is try to be consistent. By doing that it means you’re playing well for your club week in, week out, which a lot of players are.
“I understand Stuart Lancaster is in a position where he wants to pick a team that he thinks can build to winning the World Cup in 2015.
“I understand that he’s looking at different wingers but all you can do as a player is keep playing well.
“I’m not unique in the sense that I’m in this position.
“Look at players that are playing well now, like Mike Brown. He’s been in this position for six years. I played with him at Quins for four years when he was playing well [but didn’t get picked by England].
“Chris Robshaw spent god knows how long playing and no-one gave him the time of day but now he’s England captain.”
The Harlequins duo are included with club-mates Joe Marler and Danny Care, while Wasps forward Joe Launchbury gets the nod.
England head coach Lancaster said today: “We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe this squad can take us forward into 2015.
“I am delighted for George, who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the senior Elite Player Squad.”
Lancaster has made only one official change to his EPS, but eight England Saxons stars are set to make senior England appearances during the Six Nations.
With injury concerns surrounding a host of senior England men, Lancaster has taken the option to promote a host of second-string men on a short-term basis.
Northampton’s Luther Burrell, Exeter duo Tom Johnson and Jack Nowell, Jonny May from Gloucester and Matt Mullan from Wasps are all among that eight.
Leicester’s Ed Slater, Sale prop Henry Thomas and Bath’s young wing Watson complete the set.
Props Mullan and Thomas step up to cover tighthead David Wilson’s calf injury which could sideline him for a month, the majority of the Six Nations tournament.
Lancaster has promoted these eight Saxons as cover for Yarde, Wade, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Alex Corbisierio, Geoff Parling and Ben Foden, as well as the doubt over Wilson.
Northampton’s Stephen Myler, Bath hooker Rob Webber and Saracens scrum-half Wigglesworth will also train with the senior squad.
Lancaster confirmed he has retained his injured crew of players with a hope he can take them on England’s summer tour to New Zealand.
Toby Flood’s England career also looks in doubt and the England boss admitted he could not reasonably select the Leicester fly-half, despite pleading with the 28-year-old not to move to Toulouse in the summer.
Lancaster said: “We are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the [summer] New Zealand tour.
“I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England.
“He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that, but given the RFU’s policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.
“Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons against the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25, while Rob Webber and Richard Wigglesworth will give us some depth to our training.”
England Senior Elite Performance Squad
Forwards: Attwood (Bath), Cole (Leicester), Corbisiero (Northampton), Croft (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Kvesic (Gloucester), Launchbury (Wasps), Lawes (Northampton), Marler (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester), Parling (Leicester), Robshaw (Harlequins), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), Wilson (Bath), Wood (Northampton), Youngs (Leicester).
Backs: Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins), Burns (Gloucester), Care (Harlequins), Dickson (Northampton), Eastmond (Bath), Farrell (Saracens), Foden (Northampton), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens), Tuilagi (Leicester), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Wade (Wasps), Yarde (London Irish), Youngs (Leicester).
England RBS Six Nations squad
Forwards: Attwood (Bath), Cole (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Kvesic (Gloucester), Johnson (Exeter), Launchbury (Wasps), Lawes (Northampton), Marler (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester), Mullan (Wasps), Robshaw (Harlequins), Slater (Leicester), Thomas (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), Webber (Bath), Wood (Northampton), Youngs (Leicester)
Backs: Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins), Burrell (Northampton), Care (Harlequins), Dickson (Northampton), Eastmond (Bath), Farrell (Saracens), Ford (Bath), Goode (Saracens), May (Gloucester), Myler (Northampton), Nowell (Exeter), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Youngs (Leicester), Watson (Bath), Wigglesworth (Saracens).