Morgan's recall for Scarlets irks England

No 8 forced to return to club rather than rest with country while Narraway chooses move to France

Stuart Lancaster did not admit it in so many words, but he has had his fill of Wales and its rugby population for a while. No sooner had England's caretaker coach finished licking his wounds after last weekend's narrow defeat at the hands of the World Cup semi-finalists than he found his best-laid plans further undermined by the Llanelli-based Scarlets, who pulled rank in respect of the highly rated No 8 Ben Morgan.

Morgan left the England camp yesterday, to link up with the Scarlets for tomorrow's RaboDirect Pro12 game against Connacht. The sooner the Bristol-born No 8 finds his way back across the Severn, the easier life will be.

That may happen quickly. Morgan, who was fast-tracked into the England squad at the start of the Six Nations, has been linked with a move to Gloucester at the end of the season – a theory that gained credence yesterday when the current Kingsholm No 8 and captain, Luke Narraway, announced that he will play for Perpignan next term. Narraway, the best footballing back-rower in the country by a considerable distance, made the decision for two reasons: firstly, because his chances of resuming what was once a promising international career have become increasingly remote and secondly because he had been told things were moving in a "new direction" at club level. Quite possibly in the direction of Morgan.

Lancaster, preparing for a difficult trip to France on Sunday week, had wanted to wrap his starting line-up from the Wales game in cotton wool. Fourteen of them will indeed ease their way through a light training session at Loughborough University today. The exception is Morgan.

"Yes, we tried to talk Scarlets into letting Ben stay with us, but ultimately it was their call and they told us they required him for their game this week," Lancaster said. "Because Ben plays his club rugby in Wales he's not covered by the Elite Player Agreement, like those playing in the Premiership. You can have the negotiation when these things arise, but you're not in a very strong position."

By agreeing a move to the rugby badlands of Catalonia, where the locals are even more boisterous than those who congregate in the Kingsholm Shed, Narraway, who has seven caps, has effectively closed himself off from Test rugby. It is current Twickenham policy not to pick from abroad, unless exceptional circumstances arise. While much of the 28-year-old's recent rugby has been exceptional, mere attacking brilliance does not meet the governing body's criteria. When he crosses the Channel, he will leave his red-rose ambitions at passport control.

"I think the selection policy is here to stay – certainly, I've heard nothing to the contrary," Lancaster said. "I spoke to Luke on Monday, when he contacted me to inform me of his intentions. We spoke about how difficult it would be for him to press his claims for an England place and he's fully aware of the situation. It's a player choice and I understand that this is a great opportunity for him. I also know that there are plenty of other people who want to play in the back row for England."

In all, 18 of Lancaster's 32-man squad were released from camp yesterday. Joining Morgan on the road out of Loughborough was the fly-half Charlie Hodgson, who missed the Wales game with a finger injury and must now prove his fitness with Saracens, who meet Northampton at Vicarage Road on Sunday. Even if he plays a blinder, it is difficult to see him returning to the starting line-up in Paris. As the coach pointed out, the midfield axis of Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi punched their weight against Wales.

Not that Farrell was in the best of health yesterday. Together with the wing Chris Ashton, he was struggling with a bug. At the same time, there were concerns over the lock Courtney Lawes, who was packed off to hospital for a scan on a shin injury. Two fringe players, the Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall and the Northampton flanker Calum Clark, were under treatment for ankle and shoulder problems respectively.

Wisely, Lancaster resisted any temptation he might have felt to moan about the refereeing of Steve Walsh in the closing seconds of last weekend's game, although he did refer to the Australian official's failure to give England one last penalty opportunity – a major mistake – by saying: "We were playing an advantage, so it's clearly something on which he will have to reflect."

The coach was more interested in the scrummaging and discipline issues that cost England their unbeaten record in this season's championship.

"We're making progress," he said, "but we lost some composure under pressure against Wales and we can't afford to do that again."

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003