London - England's World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward wants current
coach Stuart Lancaster to end the uncertainty surrounding his final squad for
the World Cup by naming it immediately.
Critics concerned by a poor performance in Saturday's 25-20 defeat by France
in a warm-up game in Paris have voiced concerns that a week before the Aug. 31
deadline, Lancaster still seems uncertain about which players to cull for his
final squad of 31.
His problems were further complicated on Saturday when many of the
first-choice side underperformed and fringe players such as Danny Cipriani and
Nick Easter made strong cases for inclusion.
Lancaster said he still has decisions to make on one or two positions and
has not yet confirmed when he will announce his final squad. The squad is set
to be involved in two full-on 15-a-side training matches this week to help the
coaching staff finalise their choices but no date has been set for the squad
"England should have made their final cuts already and it's clearly
been affecting players and their performances," Woodward said in a column
for the Daily Mail.
"If we in the media and England fans are talking about the issues and
permutations, you can be sure the players are doing likewise.
"Stuart Lancaster should show real leadership... and announce the squad
Lancaster needs to cut eight players from the current training squad of 39
but Woodward believes that "selection issues have been a major distraction
for too long".
"We are led to believe that Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt are the
preferred first-choice centre partnership, yet they have never played together
at centre in a Test," he added. "That's extraordinary."
England, who won the World Cup under Woodward in 2003, play Ireland in their
final warm-up game at Twickenham on Sept. 5.
They open this year's tournament in Pool A against Fiji on Sept. 18.