VIDEO: England could regret Barbarians no-show
VIDEO: England could regret Barbarians no-showSHARE
Robbie Deans said England had missed an opportunity to gain valuable experience after none of their players were involved for the Barbarians against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.
Several England internationals, including Jonathan Joseph and James Haskell, are understood to have been approached regarding playing for the invitational Barbarians on a weekend where there were no Premiership league games.
But with several leading English sides facing early-season injury problems, enthusiasm regarding playing for the Barbarians on Saturday started to wane – particularly given concerns among even England fringe players about avoiding a knock ahead of the November international opener against Argentina at Twickenham next Saturday.
England, currently second in the world rankings behind New Zealand, are not due to play the All Blacks again until the rugby heavyweights meet at Twickenham this time next year and Deans believed they had missed a trick following their return from a warm-weather training camp in Portugal earlier this week.
"It's a great shame for those England players and it was a great opportunity for them to experience the level," said Deans, whose Barbarians side – which had 10 of his fellow New Zealanders in the starting XV – gave the All Blacks a scare before going down 31-22.
"So it's been a opportunity missed because some of those 23 could have had a taste of this.
"They were all pretty much positive early on, but when it comes down to it they get into the season, injuries pick up and internationals loom, things can change.
"The initial positivity was replaced by a little resistance. The players felt a little bit of pressure that they might compromise themselves if they stepped into this."
Deans, a former Australia coach, added: "A player is always going to listen to his international coach in this circumstance, but to a man they all wanted to play."