Carling delivered a damning verdict in the wake of England’s 28-25 demise at the hands of Wales on Saturday, in particular accusing head coach Stuart Lancaster of overseeing a classroom environment that stifles leadership and individual decision-making.
Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth led the retaliation as England returned fire, questioning the position of Carling to comment given his distance from the current squad’s inner circle and accusing him of being out of touch.
But Carling, the nation’s most capped skipper who led England to the 1991 World Cup final, insisted that a collective burying of heads in the sand and ignoring the problems which emerged in the latter stages of the Welsh clash would be a recipe for disaster.
“I know Richard Wigglesworth has said ‘what the hell do I know about rugby?’. He’s got a point - I’m an old fart - but one of the things we did do was invest a huge amount of time, effort and emotion in learning the lessons that we got wrong,” said Carling
“The players and coaches have got to be brutally honest with each other because that is how you get a team to be successful, not by ignoring serious issues.
“If we ignore the faults, ignore what went wrong, we will be very vulnerable, so I’m hoping for some honest and brutal conversations in the England camp this week.”
Carling was also keen to point out that adopting a critical stance does not necessarily translate into a deep-rooted and anti-England sentiment.
He added: “I know that some of the coaches feel that if you criticise then you are not a supporter but I don’t believe going ‘rah, rah England’ with your eyes closed means you’re a great England supporter.”