Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Was Coach Right to Axe Me? No, but Stuart Was Not for Turning; EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Was Coach Right to Axe Me? No, but Stuart Was Not for Turning; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Palmer England and Stade Francais lock

[bar] TOMORROW at Twickenham it will be the first time in two years and 22 Test matches that I won't be in England's match day squad. Rather than running out onto the hallowed turf, I'll be watching on TV like every other rugby fan in England and Wales. I've been dropped. Not even a place on the bench.

This is something that almost every player will experience in his career, it's certainly not the first time it has happened to me but that doesn't make it any easier to take.

To play for your country is a huge honour and such a privilege. The whole experience of playing international rugby really is as good as it gets and to be told that you're not good enough, that someone else deserves the jersey more than you, is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow.

After starting the previous two matches and feeling I'd played well against Italy, I was confident of keeping my place in the team when we met up at the hotel on Sunday night.

However, on Monday morning after our first session of the week, Graham Rowntree, the forwards coach, took me to one side and gave me the bad news. We were sitting on a tackle bag by the side of the pitch having a conversation that was fairly uncomfortable for both of us.

At first I thought I was going to be dropped to the bench, which I wasn't happy with but at least I would be involved and would probably get a chance to play. Then he hit me with the really bad news -- I wasn't going to be in Stuart Lancaster's squad at all. This was a shock to me, I couldn't believe it.

I didn't and still don't agree with the selection but I have enough sense to know that once it was made the decision was final. Certainly, I argued my case but I didn't go beyond what was appropriate realising that no coach with an ounce of integrity could be persuaded to change his mind.

I also knew that sulking or spitting out the dummy would do me no favours. The only course of action available to me is to stay professional. …

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