McCall backs Strettle for England recall
January 6, 2013
Winger David Strettle scored once try and created another as Saracens accounted for Sale at Vicarage Road © PA Photos
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has backed winger David Strettle to reclaim his England place ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations.
Strettle, 29, won the last of his 12 Test caps against South Africa last summer and has since slipped down the England pecking order into the Saxons squad with Ugo Monye, Charlie Sharples and Mike Brown sharing the left wing duties in the autumn.
Speaking following Strettle's eye-catching display in Saracens' 32-12 Premiership victory over Sale on Sunday, McCall urged Stuart Lancaster to recall the 29-year-old speedster when he names his latest Elite Player Squad on Wednesday.
"David Strettle was made man-of-the-match today and he was magnificent," said McCall, having seen Strettle notch his first Premiership try of the season and create another for team-mate Charlie Hodgson. "He's really relished this opportunity to play on the left wing and England don't have that many natural left wingers. No-one's been putting their hands up as an out-an-out starter and the last five weeks has seen some of the best rugby I've seen from him."
With Sharples more at home on the right wing and Brown a specialist fullback, an in-form Strettle would appear to be in a strong negotiating position but ahead of his latest outing he was taking nothing for granted. "They know what they get with me and it is a case now of taking care of the club stuff and be playing so well they can't say no," he said. "I'm feeling sharper now and my goal is to force my way back in."
He also faces competition from Wasps flyer Tom Varndell who leads the Premiership try-scoring charts this season with 10 five-pointers while his club-mate Christian Wade is surely pushing Northampton's Chris Ashton for the No.14 shirt. Both Strettle and Wade may suffer as a result of Lancaster's recent preference for fielding two fullbacks with both Brown and Northampton's Ben Foden having lined up on the left wing in the past year.
"I see it as a mission when I'm facing England guys ahead of me in the pecking order to outshine them in a game,' the 27-year-old Varndell told the Mail on Sunday. "And, of course, it's frustrating to see fullbacks - albeit exceptional rugby players - selected as wingers for England, but that's out of my hands. All I can do is play as well as I can and hope I get a chance."
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