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."

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week