Pressure on England players to stay at home

England have hardened their position on selecting overseas-based players by declaring they will only be chosen after the 2011 World Cup in "exceptional circumstances".

The Rugby Football Union's chief executive John Steele has written to all England internationals and their agents warning of the repercussions should they play their trade outside the Aviva Premiership.

Steele wrote: "We have a number of elite players in various squads and clubs outside England, principally in France, and you may be considering that as your next career move. If that is the case, I wanted to let you know that it is our view that we are best served by having our England Elite Player Squad and our England Qualified Players all playing in England.

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"So I would like to confirm that it is our intent, from the end of Rugby World Cup 2011 through the RWC 2015 cycle, to select our Elite Player Squads from players playing at English clubs where at all possible.

"I would stress that this is not a change to our selection policy itself. Players remain free to play outside England should they so wish, but it is our intention that we only select from overseas clubs in exceptional circumstances. It is for you and your agent to decide if you are willing to take that risk."

EU employment law has forced Steele to pick his words carefully, but it remains a clear statement of intent.