Stuart Lancaster: David Strettle withdrawal 'surprises' coach

Lancaster 'disappointed' with Strettle

Head coach Stuart Lancaster says he is "surprised" and "disappointed" at the withdrawal of wing David Strettle from the England World Cup squad.

Strettle, 31, won the Premiership title with Saracens in May and will join French side Clermont for next season.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni has been brought in as his replacement.

"David made his decision to withdraw and I was left in no other position but to accept that and look at the next guy in," said Lancaster.

The 45-year-old added: "You don't tend to look back when a decision is made, you look forward. People very rarely look at players who aren't there, it is very much in the here and now with the players sat in front of you."

The Rugby Football Union brought in a policy in 2010 stating France-based players are ineligible to represent the national team. This rules out Clermont's European player of the year Nick Abendanon and Toulon's Steffon Armitage.

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'Accept your responsibility as a role model'

Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi was convicted in May of assaulting police officers

Earlier this month, fly-half Danny Cipriani was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving following a car crash in London. He was given a breath test and taken to a west London police station before being released on bail.

Lancaster - whose squad met up for a World Cup training camp on Monday - says the Sale Sharks player will remain with the rest of the players until the outcome of the incident.

Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi, 23, was left out of the squad after admitting assaulting police officers in May, while hooker Dylan Hartley was removed after being given a four-week ban for headbutting.

"We talked about what we stand for as a group and how we build the foundations for a winning team. Part of that is accepting your responsibility as a role model," said Lancaster.

Next few weeks crucial

Lancaster named his 50-man training squad in May, which will need to be cut down to the final 31-man squad on 31 August. Their World Cup campaign starts against Fiji on 18 September at Twickenham.

Lancaster added: "It is exciting coming in to camp. The stakes are high. I will base a lot of my decisions on what people have done in the past,

"Their form over the last six months, their international experience and leadership ability. Equally, it will come down to what happens in the next four to six weeks."

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