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Rokoduguni replaces Strettle

Semesa Rokoduguni, pictured, has replaced David Strettle in England's World Cup training squad
Semesa Rokoduguni, pictured, has replaced David Strettle in England's World Cup training squad

Semesa Rokoduguni has been called up to England's World Cup training squad after the withdrawal of winger David Strettle.

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Strettle, who won the Aviva Premiership title with Saracens last month, has signed with French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne for next season and was named in head coach Stuart Lancaster's training squad before his move to France was announced.

England have a staunch policy of overlooking foreign-based stars, save for the "exceptional circumstances" clause that has never been invoked.

After Strettle's withdrawal and the call-up of Bath's Rokoduguni, Lancaster said: "Clearly a lot has been going on with David recently with the late interest from Clermont and his decision to leave Saracens.

"After visiting France recently and discussing it with his family he has made the decision to move early to get settled before the season in France starts.

"Obviously it is disappointing but David and I have chatted and he feels that, having made the move, he wants to get on with forging his new career and we both agreed it was the best course of action for him to withdraw from the squad.

"We all wish David and his family well in France as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

"I will bring in Semesa Rokoduguni, who was very unlucky not to be included in the first instance, and is now looking forward to joining up with the rest of the players. Roko is currently in Fiji but he will be with us as soon as possible."

At the time of naming his training squad, Lancaster insisted he was unaware Strettle was considering a move to France and admitted if had he known of Strettle's potential transfer, he may have chosen differently.

Strettle admitted his decision to step aside came after a great deal of thought.

"The opportunity to join Clermont and the subsequent decision to leave Saracens obviously was difficult and not one I have taken lightly," the 31-year-old said.

"Having now committed to a three-year move at what I feel is the right time in my career and for my family, I would like to begin that challenge right away.

"With the England training camp beginning this week I wanted to be fair to Stuart and the rest of the squad before that started. It goes without saying that I wish England the very best for the tournament and I will be supporting them all the way.

"I am extremely proud to have represented England and will look fondly back on the 14 caps I have won for my country since 2007."

Rokoduguni, a serving soldier, made his first England appearance against New Zealand in November 2014.

"I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity to join England for their World Cup training camp," he said.

"It's a huge privilege and I'm really looking forward to meeting up with the boys."


From Belfast Telegraph