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By Neale Harvey
WING wizard David Strettle has revealed why proposed changes to the rules surrounding quotas of French-qualified players in the Top 14 could see him return to the Premiership when his contract in France expires next summer.
Strettle, who joined champions Clermont Auvergne in 2015, has offers to remain across the Channel but those options may quickly diminish with Top 14 clubs facing potential points deductions unless they slash their number of foreign stars.
Former Harlequins, Saracens and England man Strettle, 34, told TRP: “They’ve changed the rules in France where clubs have to field a certain amount of French players, but teams haven’t been meeting them and are happy to pay fines.
“They’re changing it though and there’ll be points deductions instead in future, so that’s concentrated people’s minds and there’s a scramble going on next season for more French-qualified players.
“I’ve got a few offers from within France, which is great, but I’ve not made my mind up yet and you’d never say never to the Premiership.”
Strettle turns 35 next July, but insists: “I don’t feel any different to how I did seven years ago. I’m still enjoying going to work and have no intention of hanging up my boots yet, so we’ll see where things take me in the New Year.
“I’ve enjoyed myself in France and although this is my third season, it still feels like a new experience. I loved the Premiership but you really see what it’s like to have a whole city behind you when you’re playing for Clermont.”
Clermont’s Holy Grail remains the Champions Cup and, having helped his side destroy holders Saracens 46-14 at Allianz Park last Monday, Strettle is desperate to end what may be his final season in France as a European Cup winner.
He said: “When you play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe you’re judged on trophies. Clermont have been there or thereabouts and I’ve played in finals and lost, so the fact we’ve never won the Champions Cup doesn’t do us justice.
“But we’ve definitely got the team to win this trophy and we proved at Saracens, the champions of Europe. When Clermont start playing running rugby and get the ball wide, it’s tough for any team to stop us.”
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