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'Crushed': World Cup winner criticises lack of real England leaders

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Rob Newell/CameraSport via Getty Images)

World Cup winner Neil Back has claimed there are at best just three players in the England squad who can be classed as real leaders due to the negative impact Eddie Jones had. The retired English back-rower is hoping that with the Australian now dismissed from his post that Steve Borthwick, the new head coach, can revitalise the team’s player leadership.


The only leaders, according to Back, in the final few years under Jones were Owen Farrell, Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes. Farrell has been named as skipper by Borthwick for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations, which starts at home to Scotland on February 4, and Genge is also a likely starter.

However, Lawes withdrew from the squad last Monday following the weekend injury he suffered with Northampton and Back now wants other players to start speaking up and leading the team with the countdown on towards Borthwick’s first campaign in charge.

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“There may be, at best, three players in the squad who you could call real leaders – Farrell, Genge and Lawes, and that’s it. You don’t talk beyond that. I’m sure others have a lot to say but haven’t felt able to. Borthwick will encourage them.

“The top teams I played with, Leicester, England and the Lions, they asked questions. When you are used to being asked questions you would get used to bringing in ideas and answers. That has been crushed,” claimed Back, talking to Online Betting Guide.


”To my mind, England under Jones were being told how to play rather than going out to play and couldn’t think for themselves. The players were looking to the sidelines for answers rather than looking to their leadership group on the pitch. That is not good because the coaches are not on the pitch. You’re the ones on the pitch playing.


“Whether in business or in sport if you go in and someone is telling you what to do all the time you start to turn off. You need to create an environment where if a player sees a problem or an area where he thinks he could do it better, he is not scared to bring it up and shouldn’t be afraid to say so.”

Back added that the dictatorial management style of Jones massively affected England during his last few years in charge. “The last couple of years have been dismal for England, who won only five out of 12 last year. Eddie is a world-class coach. There is no doubt about that and I have a huge amount of respect for him but it has gone badly wrong. The old regime was too dictatorial.

“He was constantly looking for the next new ‘shiny object’ instead of getting an object and polishing it up and making it shiny. Too many players came and went. He kept chopping and changing. There was a total lack of continuity. If you don’t get selection right and the mindset isn’t right then you’re going to lose games.”


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