‘He made us be­lieve’

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Eng­land can win a sec­ond Rugby World Cup if it re­peats 'the in­ten­sity and pre­ci­sion' it showed in the semi­fi­nal vic­tory over New Zealand its 2003 tour­na­ment-win­ning coach Clive Wood­ward said.

The 63 year old English­man - whose side beat present Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones's Aus­tralia - added the caveat Eng­land faced a ma­jor chal­lenge to climb 'that Ever­est again' to beat South Africa in Satur­day's fi­nal.

Wood­ward, who is in Ja­pan as a TV pun­dit, con­ceded in his Daily Mail col­umn the Spring­boks have strengths which could hurt Eng­land but will not be in the same parish if Jones's men man­age to re­peat the level

Wood­ward's opin­ion was shared by play­ers past and present. For­mer All Blacks great An­drew Mehrtens - who suf­fered his own crush­ing World Cup dis­ap­point­ment in los­ing to South Africa in the 1995 fi­nal - and Eng­land scrum-half Danny Care, who was omit­ted from the squad af­ter a loss of form, be­lieve Eng­land will lift the Webb El­lis tro­phy.

Mehrtens - capped 70 times - said the Spring­boks, who edged Wales 19-16 were the only team ca­pa­ble of giv­ing the English a run for their money.

"If Eng­land play like they did against the All Blacks in the fi­nal on Satur­day then I would say the World Cup is theirs," Mehrtens said in his col­umn for The Times. "It is hard to see any­body beat­ing them but the only team I could see stay­ing with them are South Africa.

"New Zealand could at their best, but the Spring­boks' size and physique means that they can han­dle that side of the game. "They will have to be im­mense, though, be­cause that was the best Eng­land per­for­mance I have seen," added the 46 year old South Africa-born for­mer fly-half.

Care, Eng­land's sec­ond most capped scrum-half with 84, said the whole squad's men­tal­ity changed when Jones took over following the hosts hu­mil­i­at­ing first round exit in 2015.

"I will al­ways re­mem­ber him say­ing: 'I look around this room and I gen­uinely be­lieve this group of play­ers can win the World Cup in four years' time," Care said in his Daily Tele­graph col­umn. "I think you can be the best team in the world and it will change your lives and your fam­i­lies' lives for­ever. Just those few words gave the whole room a mas­sive lift. He made us be­lieve in a way we never re­ally had be­fore."

Care said Eng­land should be able to deal with the Spring­boks. "South Africa pose a very dif­fer­ent threat (to New Zealand)," he said.


Eng­land's head coach Ed­die Jones (cen­tre) leads a train­ing ses­sion at the Fuchu Asahi Foot­ball Park on Tues­day

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