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Tough decisions for Lancaster

Published 09/07/2015

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to cut five players from his World Cup training squad on Friday
England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to cut five players from his World Cup training squad on Friday

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to end the 2015 Rugby World Cup dream for a handful of players on Friday.

A 50-man training squad announced by Lancaster in May is expected to be reduced to 45 ahead of the next pre-World Cup training phase in Colorado.

England will head to Denver this weekend, but for a small group of players, the World Cup journey will already be over.

Such is the enviable strength in depth available to Lancaster, that even cutting five individuals from 50 will not be an easy task.

For the vast majority, though, the England-hosted World Cup in September and October will remain on their agenda, with uncapped players like Sam Burgess, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itoje and Henry Slade all expected to board the plane.

But among those who could conceivably come under the selection microscope might be Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler, Wasps prop Matt Mullan, Bath hooker Rob Webber and Harlequins back-row forward Nick Easter.

It is currently the only planned reduction in squad size ahead of Lancaster revealing his final 31-man World Cup group late next month, which is likely to be less than three weeks before England's opening game against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18.

Reflecting on the training work so far, England and Gloucester wing Jonny May said: "The running sessions have been up there with the toughest I've done.

"The training that we've done will prepare us well. We've had some really tough fitness sessions, but I'm sure it's going to be a step up in Denver.

"It willl be hot and at altitude, and I think we are planning on introducing a little bit more rugby once we get out there.

"It has been very much strength and conditioning-based so far, with a bit of skills."

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