Lancaster had to cut eight players from England’s training group, including two he has known since their childhood in Leeds, centre Luther Burrell and back-row Calum Clark.
The England head coach informed his players of his decisions – successful and unsuccessful – in one-to-one meetings before announcing his squad in front of the 39 players yesterday morning.
Asked about the emotion of the discussions and whether there had been tears and tantrums, Lancaster said: “Just by me. No tantrums, just tears.” Lancaster would only say informing Burrell, who missed out to rugby league convert Sam Burgess, of his non-selection had been “very, very hard”.
“I won’t go into more detail than that,” Lancaster said.
“You could say the same thing about Calum. We go back to when he was 14 years old and I remember his parents driving him down to West Park.
“I remember Luther’s mum and dad. I know them really well. It’s tough.
“In the same breath: how proud did I feel when Calum Clark got his first cap?
“That’s the nature of being head coach. You’ve got to make tough decisions and you’ve got to make decisions you feel are right for the team.”
Lancaster praised the “integrity and class” of the players throughout the selection process. “It was an unbelievably emotional changing room this morning for me, but I’m sure for the players, to announce the squad but also in respect to the guys who missed out,” he said. “It’s been, for me personally as head coach, a real rollercoaster.”
Props: K Brookes (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), J Marler (Harlequins), M Vunipola (Saracens), D Wilson (Bath).
J George (Saracens), R Webber (Bath), T Youngs (Leicester).
G Kruis (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), G Parling (Exeter).
J Haskell (Wasps), B Morgan (Gloucester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton).
D Care (Harlequins), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath).
B Barritt (Saracens), S Burgess (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), H Slade (Exeter).
M Brown (Harlequins), A Goode (Saracens), J May (Gloucester) , J Nowell (Exeter), A Watson (Bath Rugby).