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Lancaster defends England selection

The Rugby Football Union's head of elite player development insists the "Englishness" of the national team is not being compromised by the selection of overseas-born players.

Stuart Lancaster, who is also England Saxons coach and a candidate for the RFU's new performance director post, this week called Saracens lock Mouritz Botha into his squad for the Churchill Cup. Botha, 29, qualifies on residency grounds having played for Bedford Athletic and Championship club Bedford Blues before landing a move to Saracens in 2009.

Lancaster told Press Association Sport: "England want to put the best side out and I don't think there are any concerns we are losing our Englishness."

He added: "I don't think it is an active recruitment policy. If the likes of Hendre Fourie and Mouritz Botha come through the development programmes in England and put their hands up then ultimately they can be considered for selection.

"Mouritz has come in on form. He played very well for Saracens.

"When you look at his track record as a player, he has gone from Bedford Athletic seven or eight years ago and come through ultimately to play for Saracens.

"He has been in this country for a long time and played an awful lot of development rugby in England, a bit like Hendre Fourie did.

"There is no problem in that from my regard."

Matt Stevens, born in South Africa and capped 32 times by England, has also been included in the Saxons squad as he makes his way back to international rugby following a drugs ban. England's Six Nations-winning squad featured New Zealand-born trio Riki Flutey, Shontayne Hape and Dylan Hartley plus Fourie, whose first language is Afrikaans.

Leicester number eight Thomas Waldrom, who hails from Lower Hutt in Wellington, and the Tigers' Samoan-born centre Manu Tuilagi are both in consideration for places in Martin Johnson's World Cup squad.


From Belfast Telegraph