Woodward announces World Cup squad
September 7, 2003
Mike Catt earns a recall to the England squad for the sport's showpiece event © Getty Images
England head coach Clive Woodward has announced the 30-man squad that will travel to Australia for the 2003 Rugby World Cup with Austin Healey, Graham Rowntree and Simon Shaw three high-profile omissions.
The unfortunate trio will miss out on England's bid for global supremacy that kicks off next month and they will be joined on the sidelines by Gloucester wing James Simpson-Daniel and Leicester centre Ollie Smith. There is also a call-up for Bath fly-half Mike Catt, who won the last of his 56 caps against South Africa in November 2001.
Injuries to Charlie Hodgson and Alex King created a vacancy for a third fly-half behind Jonny Wilkinson and Paul Grayson, and 31-year-old Catt has got the nod. Catt was riddled with injury problems last season, but he came through a rigorous day of fitness testing with the England management last week, and will now travel Down Under.
Wasps' Cape Town-born centre Stuart Abbott, who qualifies for England through his mother, also makes it, as does Bath back Iain Balshaw, a star of last night's victory over France at Twickenham. Leicester forward Martin Corry, outstanding in England's warm-up Tests, gains one of six back-row slots.
Commenting on the selection of Catt Woodward said, "In a squad like this for the RWC you need three people who can play 10 especially when you consider the tough pool matches we have to play and who we may face in the knockout stages. Clearly, we 've got two in the squad with Jonny and Paul but we need a third and we'd already lost Charlie Hodgson and Alex King through injury.
"So quite simply Mike is the next person in. Although his kicking game is fantastic he's been out for a long time purely because there have been other players ahead of him but I've been speaking to him regularly over the last six months and the biggest thing for me was him getting back to full fitness, which he has done. Once Alex King was injured it was a very simple choice."
Regarding the five players who haven't made the final 30, Woodward added, "It's tough on Austin and I've had a long chat with him. The biggest thing everyone has got to get their minds around is that I'm not taking a squad of utility players and when we play these games and we must have the best 22 available for the key games. Austin has had almost a year out and although he has done very well he has not quite done enough to be selected.
"Simon Shaw would be in any other international team in the world and not to pick him or Graham Rowntree are the two hardest decisions I've had to make in my six years as Head Coach with England. However, I had to be practical and Martin has been playing outstandingly well.
"Regarding the remaining players who didn't make it, it's scant consolation for them that they have all made a significant contribution to England being successful. The competition within the squad is huge and it's made the decisions I've had to make very difficult. I wish all the players who haven't made the final 30 the very best for a very successful season with their Zurich Premiership clubs and they must remember that they are just one injury away from joining the squad."
Martin Johnson will captain England Down Under, with England kicking off their World Cup campaign against Georgia in Perth on October 12.
England's 2003 Rugby World Cup squad:
Fullbacks/Wings: Iain Balshaw (Bath), Ben Cohen (Northampton Saints), Josh Lewsey (London Wasps), Dan Luger (Perpignan), Jason Robinson (Sale Sharks).
Centres: Stuart Abbott (London Wasps), Will Greenwood (NEC Harlequins), Mike Tindall (Bath)
Fly Half : Mike Catt (Bath), Paul Grayson (Northampton Saints), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons) - Vice Captain
Scrum Halves: Kyran Bracken (Saracens), Matt Dawson (Northampton Saints), Andy Gomarsall (Gloucester)
Props: Jason Leonard (NEC Harlequins), Phil Vickery (Gloucester), Julian White (Leicester Tigers), Trevor Woodman (Gloucester)
Hookers: Mark Regan (Leeds Tykes), Steve Thompson (Northampton Saints), Dorian West (Leicester Tigers)
Second rows: Danny Grewcock (Bath), Martin Johnson, CAPTAIN (Leicester Tigers), Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers),
Back-row: Neil Back (Leicester Tigers), Martin Corry, (Leicester Tigers), Lawrence Dallaglio (London Wasps), Richard Hill (Saracens), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Joe Worsley (London Wasps)
The five players who are not in the final squad of 30 are: James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), Austin Healey (Leicester Tigers), Graham Rowntree (Leicester Tigers), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Ollie Smith (Leicester Tigers).