10 of the best players who won’t feature at the Rugby World Cup

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WHEN YOU HAVE 15 players on the field at any one time and 23 during the course of a game, a 31-man squad does not leave you with much wiggle room.

Coaches all over the world have had to make hard decisions, leaving out players who are capable of excellence at the highest level. We know about the lads unlucky to miss out on Ireland’s call for the World Cup, here’s a taster of what some other nations are leaving on their spin to England 2015.

Steffon Armitage (England)

Limiting a country’s team selection to those who ply their trade within their borders is not the worst idea, but Toulon’s breakdown specialist has made it a controversial one for England. In the World Cup’s pool of death, having one of the most important stars from the three-time European champions would be a handy weapon to have in the arsenal.

Source: David Davies

 Israel Dagg (New Zealand)

New Zealand’s embarrassment of riches in outside backs means there is no place for a man who has struggled for form this season.

The versatile dream-killer Ryan Crotty and Ulster-bound Charles Piutau also miss out alongside a man who was among the best fullbacks in the world over the past five years and created this breakthrough in the 2011 semi-final.

Christian Lealiifano (Australia)

The rule change that allowed the Wallabies reach for experienced overseas players was not good news for this Brumbies playmaker. The 27-year-old’s ability to cover 10 and 12 would be a useful option for any coach, but with Matt Giteau and Brumbies team-mate Matt Toomua offering the same thing, Lealiifano is surplus to green and gold requirements.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Napolioni Nalaga (Fiji)

Competition for Fiji wing places is fierce, but we have to feel for Nalaga in particular. The winger chose to leave Clermont last season but was left high and dry when Toulon pulled out of the deal. Now he’s left with a ProDiv2 season in Lyon to look forward to when he could be helping dark horses Fiji in the pool of death.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Francois Trinh-Duc (France)

This exclusion is good news for Ireland. Trinh-Duc is a superb playmaker and his running game from out-half seems to make him perfectly suited to ignite the fabled French flair. Philippe Saint-Andre has instead handed the reins to Freddy Michalak for the tournament with Remi Tales in reserve.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Lima Sopoaga (New Zealand)

The brilliant Highlanders out-half only made his international debut this summer, but from here, he looks like a much better (not to mention more exciting) option than Colin Slade and (whisper it) Dan Carter.

Click Here: New Zealand Rugby Shop Manu Tuilagi (England)

Stuart Lancaster is 100% correct to have excluded Manu Tuilagi from his World Cup plans after the Leicester centre plead guilty to two counts of assaulting a police officer. His crime also punishes the England collective by leaving them without a truly explosive centre capable of giving any defence a hard time.

Source: Jonathan Brady

Heinrich Brussow (South Africa)

The Springboks’ excellent openside returned to international rugby after a four-year absence this summer, but a subsequent arm injury took the momentum out of his bid to rediscover favour with Heyneke Meyer.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

James Horwill (Australia)

Horwill is among the surprise exclusions from Michael Cheika’s squad. At 30, he is in the prime of his career as a second row and has enjoyed a decent season in an otherwise backpedaling Reds outfit. Yet Cheika sought to recall Kane Douglas to the fold instead of the Queenslander.

Source: queenslandreds/YouTube

Todd Clever (USA)

The big rough-and-tumble jock posterboy of American rugby, Todd Clever is a name that quickly becomes familiar when watching the US Eagles in action.

Clever though, appears to have let his status as team captain and talisman go slightly to his head this summer and he was dropped in July for ‘multiple conduct violations’ including a missed training session in San Jose the morning after he attended the ESPY Awards in LA.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Who would you add to the list and who will you miss the most?

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