England have been accused of being "arrogant" in their treatment of rugby league convert Sam Burgess, by former scrum-half Matt Dawson.
Burgess was controversially picked as a centre for England's dismal World Cup campaign after switching codes in 2014.
The 26-year-old Bath player is now rumoured to be considering a return to rugby league with his former club South Sydney Rabbitohs in Australia.
However Bath head coach Mike Ford insists Burgess will stay at the club.
He has been given time off by the Premiership side to consider his future, but Ford says he expects Burgess to return to training on Monday.
Dawson, a 2003 World Cup winner with England, says the attempt to integrate Burgess as a leader of the team was flawed.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster picked him in midfield ahead of other established international centres, despite the player only making his debut in rugby union in late 2014.
"It's so arrogant from an English rugby perspective," Dawson told BBC Radio 5 live Sport.
Dawson also said he felt sympathy for the players who missed out on a place in the England squad.
"I can't help but feel gutted for Luther Burrell and Kyle Eastmond," he added. "It could be their one and only chance at a World Cup. They must be absolutely devastated."
Burgess left Australia, where he helped the Rabbitohs win the NRL Grand Final last year with a broken cheekbone, to sign a three-year contract at Bath with the aim of playing in a home World Cup.
Having only made his England rugby union debut in August, he was selected for the World Cup, at which the hosts failed to progress from the group stage last month.
He impressed as a replacement in England's opening win over Fiji, started in the defeat by Wales in the second pool game before being replaced with 11 minutes left, came off the bench for the last 15 minutes of the subsequent loss to Australia and was then dropped from the match-day 23 for the final game against Uruguay.
World Rugby chief Brett Gosper told BBC sports editor Dan Roan that Burgess had "done a terrific job in adapting" to union.
"He is an amazing athlete, a very charismatic sportsman and it was very tempting for him and clubs in England to bring into the fold. The future is up for him to decide."
Speculation in Australia has linked Burgess with a return to the NRL, with confirmation last week that brothers George and Tom had signed three-year contract extensions at the Rabbitohs and Luke at Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Burgess's representatives are in talks with the Rabbitohs but Ford is adamant Burgess will stay as a back rower for Bath.
'It would be a poke in the eye for Bath'
Former Bath and England prop David Flatman speaking to BBC Radio 5 live: "I think Bath would feel a bit cheesed off [if Burgess left].
"It is not just time, it is money. The Rugby Football Union didn't pay to get him out of his contract in Sydney. They didn't pay his salary. Bruce Craig, the chairman of Bath, paid all of it. Everyone knew if that enormous investment was to bear fruit it was going to be, maybe, in year two, year three, or four and five.
"It was never going to come to profit in year one. If Sam decides to terminate, it is a poke in the eye for Bath Rugby. I don't think it will be a cool look for him to leave now. Equally, who are we to assume we know what pressures he is under inside his own head?
"He has not had it all his own way but he is very well remunerated. He is in the perfect place to prove people wrong and also to prove himself right."