England’s “old-fashioned” policy of only selecting domestic-based players should be scrapped, says former national team coach Sir Clive Woodward.
The 2003 World Cup winning coach has congratulated Australia for “seeing sense” and calling up Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell from French club Toulon.
“Stuart Lancaster must be free to pick his best players, no matter where they ply their trade,” he said.
“It’s wrong to say England are best served by players at English clubs.”
Woodward pointed to Toulon’s Steffon Armitage and Clermont Auvergne’s Nick Abendanon as examples of foreign-based players who deserve to be considered for the English national team.
He added, in the Daily Mail: “Jonny Wilkinson moved to France and became even better than when he played for England, so that completes the argument for me. Would I have picked Jonny if he was playing in France? Of course I would.”
Woodward also said if Giteau and Mitchell were to excel for Australia against World Cup hosts England later this year then everyone would “know exactly what the headlines will be”.
He added: “When it comes to a home World Cup, you don’t want to be left talking about ‘what ifs’.”
Lancaster’s England side play Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay in the World Cup group stages, with their opening game against Fiji to be played at Twickenham on 18 September.