England rugby lacks X-factor: ex-Wallaby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England rugby lacks X-factor: ex-Wallaby

By Jim Morton 11/06/2010 02:15:59 PM Comments (0)

Former Wallabies back and English premiership-winning coach Pat Howard doubts good mate Martin Johnson has the game-breakers to return England to the top of world rugby.

Howard gives Johnson, his former Leicester Tigers teammate, a solid chance of coaching England to a rare win on Australian soil at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night.

But he feels England continues to struggle without enough world-class players who can bring an X-factor to their direct, power game.

While Australian rugby lacks the immense depth of England, Howard said Johnson would give anything for the zip, creativity and skill of a Will Genia, Quade Cooper or Matt Giteau.

"England have a mountain of good players - they have mountains of them!" Howard told AAP.

"The difference between their A-team and probably their F-team is not massive but I think Johnno would probably trade three or four world-class players who could win you a World Cup for a little less depth.

"He would hope this trip unearths some X-factor in his young backs."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans could only dream of having the experience Johnson, who has brought 44 players to Australia for their five-match tour, can call upon.

But with that extra choice brings problems for England, who have largely disappointed in the international arena since Johnson captained them to the 2003 World Cup.

Howard, who became the Australian Rugby Union high-performance manager in 2007 after coaching Leicester to the English premiership, likens England's problem to that of NSW in rugby league State of Origin.

Like the Blues, they struggle to develop combinations with so many players to choose from and the 20-Test former Brumbies playmaker pointed to their inability to settle on a five-eighth as a prime example.

Toby Flood is the latest to be reinstated after Jonny Wilkinson, Charlie Hodgson, Danny Cipriani, Shane Geraghty and Olly Barkley have all been tried and dumped.

"They need a game plan that matches what they have got but Johnno blending together lots of styles together very quickly," Howard said.

"I don't think it gels well at the moment with so many selection issues.

"But in all fairness to England ... they have shown before they can not play well and then turn up to a World Cup and play well."

Apart from two victories in 2003 when England ruled the world under Clive Woodward, they have lost all 13 other Tests against the Wallabies in Australia.

Howard said it was imperative to Johnson's 2011 ambitions that England break that hoodoo in this two-Test battle for the Cook Cup.

"If you are going to win the World Cup in 2011 then you have to get used to winning in the southern hemisphere," he said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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