Strettle: Wing talent is wasted

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Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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David Strettle has questioned England’s approach to wing selection after his two tries helped propel Saracens to a vital 30-23 Champions Cup victory over Clermont.

Strettle produced a pair of surgical finishes in the tightest of space just four days before Stuart Lancaster names his squad for the autumn’s QBE Series.

The 31-year-old has been prolific for Saracens yet has not figured for England since June 2013 and is unlikely to be involved against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia next month.

Marland Yarde and Anthony Watson are favourites to start against the All Blacks at Twickenham on November 8 with Semesa Rokoduguni also a contender.

“So many wings come and go with England because Test rugby is such a bigger game that you have to have more of an all-round game,” Strettle said.

“The sad thing is you get young lads who come in and score tries for their clubs, get put in at the highest level and get exposed, and then people just get rid of them.

“They’ve shown some natural talent in being a good finisher, so teach them the game and stick with them. That doesn’t seem to happen on the wing.

“If they’re scoring tries in the Premiership and not scoring for England, but they go back to the Premiership and keep scoring tries, maybe it’s because they’re not getting the same ball to them.

“Lads are usually blooded a lot younger on the wing and there needs to be more onus on sticking with them and teaching them a bigger skill base.

“I feel I’m one of the best wings in England and have been playing consistently at this level for a number of seasons.

“Stuart’s done the right thing, he’s had a look at the wings that are out there and I hope that leading up to the World Cup he’ll pick the best ones.”

While a wing’s athleticism may deteriorate with age, Strettle believes the wisdom developed through experience more than compensates.

“Experience means that sometimes you might not score the wonder try because you don’t back yourself, but more often than not you’ve made the right decision,” he said.

“Sometimes as wingers you’re expected to score wonder tries and if you’re not doing that, you’re doing something wrong.

“Wing play is all about reaction, you react to what happens around you because there are so many scenarios that can happen in the blink of an eye.

“The more you play the game, the more you recognise what’s happening that split second earlier.

“And those older players are the best players. They might have lost a yard or two – like Brian O’Driscoll did – but they know what’s happening that split second earlier and they react to it.”

Strettle’s England team-mate Chris Ashton also crossed twice in the bonus-point victory over Clermont at Allianz Park, while man of the match Charlie Hodgson finished with 10 points.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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