Don’t press panic button, Greenwood tells England

EXCLUSIVE

WORLD Cup winner Will Greenwood has urged England coach Stuart Lancaster not to make wholesale changes in the wake of their grand slam disappointment and to maintain belief in his methods.

England were thumped 30-3 by Wales in Cardiff on Saturday to surrender the RBS Six Nations trophy and hopes of a first grand slam since Greenwood and his team-mates achieved that feat in 2003.

Lancaster’s young team scored a record low five tries in the entire tournament, four of them coming in the first match against Scotland, and were criticised for the number of penalties conceded.

But Greenwood is a big supporter of England’s coaching set-up and hopes Lancaster does nothing drastic following the dismal defeat.

“Stuart Lancaster wants to play rugby, he wants to play with ball in hand,” said Greenwood.

“It was just key moments against Wales, unfortunately Manu Tuilagi was at the heart of both of them. But Mike Catt [attacking skills coach] isn’t teaching them how to spill the ball, or not put away four-on-ones.

“We didn’t handle enough in the midfield and our back three isn’t functioning as well as it could.

“But anyone who thinks they are not coaching them to play and handle is delusional.

“If the balance of the side is slightly wrong and he needs to bring players in to help that then that’s what Lancaster will do. He has a strong resolve to do what must be done.”

Greenwood, speaking at the launch of the 2013 JP Morgan Sevens series, played a key role in helping England to win the World Cup in Australia almost 10 years ago.

But it was not all plain sailing for Sir Clive Woodward’s side, who suffered several key defeats beforehand, and Greenwood sees similarities between his team of world champions and Lancaster’s crop.

“This is a good young team who took a bit of a hit on Saturday,” said the 40-year-old. “I was watching and all I could think about was being in Dublin in 2001 when a runaway train led by Keith Wood was coming at us and we had no idea how to stop it.

“But we always view the grand slam deciders in 1999, 2000 and 2001 as crucial building blocks to 22 November 2003 [World Cup final].

“If you’re an English fan there is disappointment there was no grand slam this year but, building up to it, there was five great wins, including the New Zealand game in December, so they shouldn’t be throwing baby out of the bath water.”

The JP Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 1 August at Gloucester with rounds at Franklin Gardens and Allianz Park and the final at The Recreation Ground. Visit www.jpmorgan7s.com or follow @jpmorganrugby7s.