Rugby League: Woodward cool on Stransky's eligibility

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CLIVE WOODWARD looks to have snubbed moves by South African Joel Stransky to make himself available for England - he becomes eligible from next September three years after his Springbok career ended. Stransky, who landed the historic drop-kick to win the World Cup for South Africa in 1995, last played a Test the following August. He qualifies through his grandparents.

However, the Leicester stand-off looks set to be disappointed. England coach Woodward said: "If I was asked whether I would choose him for World Cup 1999, the answer is basically no. I would have to be very desperate to do so and I would chose him only with the greatest reluctance and with huge reservations. If I had to, it would be a very sad day for English rugby.

"But I would never say never to anything. There might actually come a time when there are no English stand-offs playing in the Premiership and then my hand might be forced, but I prefer to pick only English-qualified players who have not appeared for another country. You can't compare Joel's case with Mike Catt. Mike was not a pro rugby player when he came here. He qualified through parents and above all had not been capped by South Africa.

"We have more rugby players than any other country in the world and if we can't find stand-offs - or any other positions - with our own qualified players in the normal way then it will be a bad day for our game. Once we started going down the Stransky road we would easily find the English national team filled with older players who have finished Test careers in their own country and served the necessary qualification."

Stransky said: "Until I became aware of the regulations I had some faint glimmer of hope that I might be recalled by South Africa. But in reality they are not going to pick me. I still have to check whether my grandparents really were English. I have to give the whole matter a lot of thought. It is a moral decision. I am South African, but the fact is I don't intend going back there in the foreseeable future."