Rugby Union: Defiant Back stands by England

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NEIL BACK insists that he will continue to play for England, no matter what his club, Leicester, does to try to stop him.

Peter Wheeler, the Leicester chief executive , has spoken out in support of the Northampton owner, Keith Barwell, after he told the Rugby Football Union that he would not allow his players to tour the southern hemisphere this summer.

"I've fought very hard to get my England place and I don't want to give it up," the 29-year-old Back said. "Whatever it takes to remain in the England squad I'll try to do. I can't speak for the other players, but personally I think we should support the tour. The players have all signed contracts saying they're available for the summer tour, so I'm under the impression that they [the clubs] can't stop them from playing for England."

Back's stance was supported by the England and Wasps captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, who said: "From my point of view, the only question about being available for England is whether the coach picks me."

Chris Wright, Wasps' owner, has accused the RFU of threatening to blacklist youngsters if they sign for clubs.

"We hear the RFU are going round telling mothers and fathers of 16 and 18-year-olds that, if they sign for a club, they will never play for England," Wright said. "Have you ever heard of anything quite so preposterous?"