England
Tindall: RFU should stick to its guns on overseas players
PA Sport
May 4, 2015
Nick Abendanon
Nick Abendanon© Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Mike Tindall has called on England to "stick to their guns" and keep refusing to select overseas-based stars, thereby shunning Steffon Armitage at the World Cup.

Former England captain Tindall backed head coach Stuart Lancaster's policy of excluding foreign-based players that could see Toulon flanker Armitage left in the wilderness. World Cup-winner Tindall believes Armitage would have joined Bath last October - and would never have explored swapping allegiance to France - if he wanted an England recall badly enough.

"I think England should definitely stick to their guns," Tindall told Press Association Sport. "If Steffon really wanted to play for England he would have come back. He looked at loan deals, Toulon wanted a lot of money to loan him, but he could have made it happen I'm sure.

"And you can't ignore the fact that he looked at trying to play for France. So it can't always be a one-way street where England have to do everything. You've got to have a share of the responsibility from both sides."

Australia have relaxed their previously hard-line stance on overseas stars, so Wallabies based abroad with 60 or more Tests under their belts can now go to the World Cup. Toulon's Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau fall straight into that category and will doubtless boost Australia boss Michael Cheika's arsenal this autumn.

Tindall believes England must not bow to growing pressure to revise their policies however, adamant the approach protects the quality of the Aviva Premiership as well as the national side.

"It sets a good precedent for England if they stick to it, because I think players would see it if they didn't and that would open that door to others to move abroad too," said Tindall. "You could see a load of players going to France and that would damage our club game.

"The fans have a real affinity with the top players in England, watching them week on week in the Premiership. If six or seven go to France I think you'd lose an edge of that link between club and country. The current rules also set the standard for young players; that they have to work hard in order to achieve things.

"If Nick Abendanon was playing like that at Bath now, he'd be in the England squad and pushing Mike Brown. But again he knew the rules when he left Bath last summer."

© PA Sport

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