Martin Johnson last night revealed he axed Riki Flutey from England's Rugby World Cup squad because he was not prepared to gamble on taking just two scrum-halves to New Zealand.
As a result, Wasps' uncapped 23-year-old Joe Simpson received an unexpected call-up to join Leicester's Ben Youngs and Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth.
Johnson telephoned Flutey reluctantly to tell him the bad news.
Not only would Flutey have offered a creative, kicking option at inside centre, but he could provide cover at both fly-half and scrum-half. Instead, England opted for three specialist scrum-halves.
“Would I love to have Riki on the plane? Of course I would,” admitted Johnson. “It was tough on Riki, who has done nothing wrong. We just felt that was the best way to go.
“Someone like Riki would have been ideal (to cover at 10). He can play a bit of nine too but you have to make a call somewhere.”
Backs: D Armitage (London Irish), C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Banahan (Bath), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Foden (N’ton Saints), S Hape (London Irish), J Simpson (London Wasps), M Tindall (GloucesteR), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), J Wilkinson (Toulon) B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Forwards: D Cole (Leicester Tigers), A Corbisiero (London Irish), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (N’ton Saints), J Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), C Lawes (N’ton Saints), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Bath), T Palmer (Stade Francais), S Shaw (Unattached), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), M Stevens (Saracens), S Thompson (London Wasps), D Wilson (Bath), T Wood (N’ton Saints).