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Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell has revealed that he felt devastated after former England head coach Stuart Lancaster left him out of the Rugby World Cup squad.
Burrell was a surprise omission in the England Rugby World Cup squad when Lancaster chose to include rugby league convert Sam Burgess instead of the Northampton centre.
Lancaster had selected Burrell at centre in the last two Six Nations and it was expected that he would retain him for the World Cup.
Burrell has revealed that after being told that he had missed out on being called up for the World cup left him fighting back tears as he had to go out and train with the rest of his team mates shortly before the official squad announcement later in the day.
Having kept his feelings to himself until now Burrell says being left out “left me broken mentally” as he had been given no idea that he would be left out.
“I knew as soon as I walked into the office and saw Stuart’s face, which was hurting, that it was not good news,” Burrell told the Telegraph.
Burgess said that he has not hard feelings against Burgess who was selected in his place and instead is disappointed that Lancaster gave him no idea that he was not going to the world cup before he had knocked on the door and was told.
“I was the first player in. Obviously, Stuart wanted to get the tough one out of the way first. I’ve known Stuart for 12 or 13 years. I have huge respect for him as a bloke and for what he has achieved. I know it was a tough decision to make. But he let me down. That’s how I feel about it.
“It was one of the most heartbreaking things in my life. To get shipped out on the day that it is all announced, well that is a huge setback. I just didn’t feel I had done anything wrong. I had trained well all summer. I had done for the jersey everything I could. That was the hardest thing for me.
“I didn’t really listen much to what was being said. There wasn’t even anything about being on standby in case of injury, keeping involved. It was just ‘Boom’.”
Burrell revealed that having been told he was not part of the England Rugby World Cup squad he almost walked out.
“I nearly left but then I gathered myself. I had broken down in the meeting room. But I had to put on a brave face in front of the lads and the coaching staff. That was one of the hardest things to do, to go into the training session when I was absolutely devastated. ”
“I was holding back the tears. We were playing five-a-side football and I was running around trying to hold the tears in because I didn’t want to get embarrassed around the lads.”
Burrell says that he has not spoken to Lancaster since that day but does say that one that they will most likely “bump heads and have a brew”.
The England centre went on holiday after being told he was not in the squad with a few of his non-rugby mates and spent time sorting his head out.
“I just needed to get away to clear my head,” Burrell said.
“Thankfully I’ve got a couple of friends based overseas. It was brilliant for me because these guys didn’t show any interest in rugby. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything but tough. I spent a lot of time on my own, just clearing my thoughts. I was away for about ten days.”
Burrell returned to Northampton and has focused on his club game but is still hoping that new England head coach Eddie Jones will be calling him for the Six Nations.
“It’s an exciting time for English rugby with a new coach on board, and all we want to do as players is show what have to offer,” Burrell said.
“I am very patriotic and I was cheering the team on right through the World Cup. I want to get back into that England team. I’m determined to give it my best shot.”
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