DAVID Strettle, the star attraction at Bury’s ULR Sevens, believes new national coach Stuart Lancaster can oversee a renaissance in the England XV.
The England and Saracens winger spent six hours mingling with the crowds at The Haberden on Sunday and spoke at length to the Free Press, giving a glowing endorsement of Lancaster’s appointment by the RFU.
The 28-year-old, who has 11 caps for his country, said the new head coach has already created a buzz in the England camp as they look to overcome 2007 World Cup champions South Africa on their own soil this summer.
“He was the interim coach at the Six Nations and everyone saw how good a job he did there,” said Strettle. “I think everyone is delighted with how he has created a vibe around a new side and the fans and the public have really got behind the team.
“He is a coach who really gets the players buying into what he believes in and I think the public can see that as well.”
And the RFU not searching out the biggest name, opting for the former PE teacher who impressed as interim coach at the Six Nations, is far from a bad thing in Strettle’s view.
“People look for big names because they have the faith they can do the job, anyone does that when they recruit for a job, but Stuart showed he has the capabilities of doing it in the Six Nations,” he said. “Everyone you speak to in the rugby fraternity was really over the moon when he got the permanent job.”
Strettle himself was celebrating the news he had been named in Lancaster’s first permanent squad, in a five-game tour of South Africa, starting against the Springboks in Durban on June 9.
And after having to pull out of the last tour of South Africa with food poisoning, where England suffered their heaviest ever defeat there, Strettle has a score to settle with his international team-mates.
“It is going to be a very tough tour in South Africa,” he said. “Everyone knows in rugby South Africa is one of the toughest places, if not the toughest, to go on tour.
“It is going to have to be a very good team to go over there and get a result and that is the next step for England.
“We have proved we have made steps forward with the Six Nations this year with the team that was selected gelled quickly. But we know we have to keep making steps forward and that is what will get the result in South Africa.”
Strettle, who has the little matter of attempting of defend Saracens’ Aviva Premiership crown with a play-off semi-final against last year’s defeated finalists Leicester Tigers at Welford Road tomorrow (5.30pm), also praised tournaments like Bury’s ULR Sevens.
“I think it is a great way of getting a lot of local players together,” he said. “I know when I was playing in the north west Caldy Sevens was big and we really used to look forward to this time of year, especially the back three players and sometimes the centres, who are quite fast.
“I think it is really important because rugby is a community sport and it is a great way of getting a lot of people down to a local club and everyone can turn up and enjoy rugby together.”
n NOW go to www.buryfreepress.co.uk to see a video of Strettle speaking of his to Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club’s director of rugby Terry Sands.