Clermont-Ferrand, France, July 15, 2015 (AFP) -Dynamic winger David Strettle has no regrets about snubbing England ahead of the World Cup, but is instead hoping to follow Nick Abendanon's lead at new club Clermont in the cut and thrust of the Top 14.
Strettle was part of the Saracens squad that won the English Premiership title last season and was promptly named in Red Rose coach Stuart Lancaster's preliminary 50-man squad for this year's World Cup in England, which starts in September.
But the 31-year-old, who won the last of his 14 caps two years ago, withdrew ahead of his move to the French giants, with the Top 14 kicking off in just four weeks.
"I'm just chomping at the bit now to get started again," Strettle said after Clermont's first day of pre-season training.
"It's a great set of lads that have made me feel very welcome straight away. It's great to get back on the field and training again."
A big factor in Strettle signing for Clermont was the presence of twice-capped England full-back Nick Abendanon, who has set the French league and European Cup alight with his fleet-footed attack.
"I know Nick quite well so before I got here I had a good chat with him, before I signed a good chat with the coaches they told me what to expect, but it doesn't take away that first day at school feeling when you turn up at a new club," he said.
"That (Abendanon's presence) was a big reason why I signed. When you've got a close friend who's done so well and enjoyed it so much, it's another reason to go and achieve something."- 'very impressed' -
Strettle said his move to Clermont, beaten finalists in both the Top 14 and European Cup last season, had left his former Saracens teammates "very impressed".
"A lot of people move to France towards the end of their career and it's not a rugby challenge, but this is definitely a rugby challenge and I'm going to have to be at the top of my game to perform here," he said.
"There are no easy games (in the Top 14) and that's what the fans want.
"Every club you go to you want to win silverware. I've been very fortunate to have played in Premiership for 10 years and we won the league last year."
Strettle added of his withdrawal from England's preliminary World Cup squad: "I've not been involved with England for a few years.
"It wasn't really on my mind when I made the decision to sign for Clermont, and that's my priority now.
"When you sign for a club, especially as a new player coming in, you want to go out there and give it your all and I thought I can only do that if I come straight out here."
Strettle admitted that his move was a "massive change".
"I've had an amazing five years at Saracens. I absolutely loved it, but I see this as a new challenge," he said.
"Hopefully I can look back in years to come on my time at Clermont with as much pride and enjoyment.
"I'm excited. Rugby's rugby, when you get on the pitch, it's the same moves, it's just different names and calls, it's been a bit frustrating because I haven't quite got the vocabulary yet. It's about how much effort you put in and I'm up for the challenge."