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Switch dents Strettle England hopes

David Strettle's remote hopes of forcing his way into England's World Cup plans receded further when his club Saracens confirmed he will join Clermont next season.

Strettle was an unexpected inclusion in Stuart Lancaster's 50-man training squad for England 2015 and having signed a three-year contract with the French Top 14 club, it will now take something spectacular for him to be considered for the final 31.

Lancaster stated on Friday that he was unaware the 31-year-old wing was primed for a move across the Channel when including him among the players who will assemble at Pennyhill Park in three weeks' time for the start of World Cup preparations.

England have refused to select players based overseas, resulting in the omission of outstanding Toulon openside Steffon Armitage, and Lancaster admitted that had he known of Strettle's potential transfer he may have chosen differently.

Wasps wing Christian Wade was unlucky not to make the 50 and to prove his point scored a hat-trick of tries in Sunday's 73-12 victory over the Barbarians in the Red Rose's annual non-cap international at Twickenham.

"David has been selected on merit because he's an English player, in England who's playing well," Lancaster said on Friday.

"Potentially (it would have affected selection) - on the 50-50s. But we'll see how it plays out. The wing spot is a very competitive position."

England have no intention of removing Strettle from their training squad, but he has little chance of dislodging any of the more established wings now his destination for next season is known.

Though a minor complication, it comes after centre Manu Tuilagi and hooker Dylan Hartley were removed from Lancaster's World Cup plans for disciplinary reasons and the head coach will be keen to avoid any further issues.

Strettle, who last played for England on the 2013 tour to Argentina, will head for France after a five-season spell at Allianz Park which ended with victory over Bath in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.

The 31-year-old has made more than 100 appearances for Saracens and departs as their leading try scorer in the Premiership.

"Something special has been happening at Saracens in the past few years and I feel very privileged to have been part of this period of success, on and off the field," Strettle said.

"We have won some famous matches and several trophies, but the bond within the squad has been incredible and it's fantastic to see this culture producing a new generation of top young players.

"I've had an amazing five years at Saracens and am now really looking forward to a new chapter in my career - playing at Clermont and testing myself in the Top 14."

Both Strettle and his fellow Saracens wing Chris Ashton had been linked with a move to Clermont in recent weeks, but director of rugby Mark McCall strongly hinted after the 28-16 triumph over Bath that only the former was leaving.


From Belfast Telegraph