Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Johnson: Attwood ban cost him place

Dave Attwood

Banned England lock Dave Attwood was issued with a stark warning after being axed from Martin Johnson's 33-man senior squad.

Attwood was replaced by Louis Deacon after Johnson decided he could not carry a player who would miss the first two games of the RBS 6 Nations through suspension. The hard-edged Gloucester lock is serving a nine-week ban for stamping. The suspension expires the Monday before England play France so he will probably miss that Test too.

"He (Attwood) is a bright lad and it is pretty obvious he has damaged his opportunity," Johnson said. "You take yourself out of the running for nine weeks it can be tough. There would have been an opportunity for him to be involved."

With Courtney Lawes potentially sidelined for three months with a knee injury, Attwood had a strong chance to press his claims for a starting England jersey.

Instead, Johnson has relegated the 23-year-old to the England Saxons.

The England manager continued: "It is a chance for him to get in the best possible shape, come back fresh, ready to go and have a blast for the last two and a half months of the season and put himself in contention for the World Cup camp.

"With Louis' form, bringing him back in was an easy decision to make."

Deacon's inclusion was one of three alterations to the senior elite squad.

Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson received a call-up in place of injured club-mate Dom Waldouck while Saracens-bound fly-half Charlie Hodgson was added to an expanded 33-man squad.

Lawes and Tom Croft, who is recovering from a fractured shoulder, were both included in the hope they would be fit before the end of the tournament.

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