Six Nations 2012: Lancaster urges squad players to push for selection
Stuart Lancaster wants the fringe members of England's squad to push for a place in the starting line-up against France next week
Stuart Lancaster has challenged the England players released back to their clubs this weekend to give him a selection headache ahead of their Six Nations match against France.
England face up to Le Crunch on March 11 on the back of a spirited 19-12 defeat at home to Wales while France face Ireland on March 4 after sneaking past Scotland 23-17 at Murrayfield.
Lancaster has injury concerns over Courtney Lawes who has a shin-splint complaint, while Owen Farrell and Chris Ashton have both been hit by sickness bugs.
And Lancaster has been frustrated at being forced to release Ben Morgan for Scarlets’ game against Connacht under IRB Section 9 – the only member of the starting XV against Wales to be released.
But the England head coach has voluntarily released 18 players including Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood to get game time under their belts and put their names to the front of his mind.
“Clearly there are selection decisions going into the game against France – and there are now 18 players going back to their clubs, so we might have some other selection decisions to make on the back of what happens this weekend,” Lancaster said.
“We’re not obliged to release any players back. From my point of view we want the boys to go back and play.
“In order to play international rugby you’ve got to be in form, you’ve got to be playing well and to do that you’ve got to be playing rugby. There are some massive games this weekend.”
Meanwhile Lancaster stated England No.8 hopeful Luke Narraway was not in contention for selection while playing in France – backing the RFU’s policy of not selecting players who play outside England.
The Gloucester captain has agreed to join French Top 14 side Perpignan at the end of the season and the England head coach said he supported the RFU’s policy.
“I spoke to Luke and he informed me of his intentions,” Lancaster said.
“It is player choice to decide where to go. It sounds like a great opportunity but it will make it very difficult to press his claims from overseas.
“There are plenty more people who want to play for England in the back row. He has made his decision and ultimately with that will come the risk in terms of international rugby.
“I think the policy is here to stay.”