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Strettle bemoans lack of patience with England's flair players

By Peter Thompson
Former England international David Strettle

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David Strettle believes England have missed out by snubbing players with “x-factor” and thinks Tom Varndell could have scored “god knows how many Test tries” if he played for New Zealand.

Clermont Auvergne wing Strettle has not featured for England since 2013 despite being prolific for Saracens before making an impressive impact since moving to France.

Strettle, who will face his former club Sarries in the European Champions Cup final on Saturday, feels England have overlooked flair players who could have thrived if they were given more chances at international level.

“With English rugby we were too quick to look at the weaknesses of players, as opposed to concentrating on the strengths,” he told Sky Sports.

“You look at Tom Varndell; he’s a try machine. He’s someone who, if you put him in an All Blacks team, would have probably have scored god knows how many Test tries.

“Yeah, he had areas in his game, like we all do, which you have to work on, but look at what he’s got – he’s got an x-factor which you can’t find anywhere else.

“Look at Christian Wade, a player there who’s got such unbelievable attacking ability, and yet people concentrate on other things. [Chris Ashton] scores god knows how many tries for England, people pick at faults in his game elsewhere.

“I just think that it’s sad that people expect the complete player.”

He added: “I watch New Zealand play sometimes and I see some of their players make mistakes and I think ‘If he’d have made that mistake in an England game – gone’.”

The Clermont flyer said it is the job of coaches to nurture talent rather than focus on faults.

“That’s why you are an England coach, that’s why you’re a Premiership coach; you make these players better. They’re not the finished article by any means,” he said.

“When you put them on a pitch and think ‘right, he’s pressing replay now, he’s done’ – no, teach him. He’s obviously got the x-factor and ability, make him an international player, make him a world-class player.

“If you chop and change so much you lose all ability to do that, and the worst thing is, the players lose their confidence.”



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