NZ Herald

This will not go down as one of the great moments in pre-match psychology.

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But former England captain Will Carling has admitted to a moment of weakness when he spotted Jonah Lomu before the famous 1995 World Cup semifinal in Cape Town.

Carling, aged 54, was seen as epitomising an arrogant English rugby attitude during his career although a long Guardian interview with him paints a far more complex and even contrary picture.

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And any cockiness took a big hit when Carling saw Lomu close up.

The late, great Lomu steamrolled England in the most famous individual rugby performance of all time in that World Cup clash.

“Lining up in that very narrow tunnel in Cape Town I looked back,” recalled Carling.

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“There were four All Blacks and suddenly I saw Jonah. You’re trying to think you can still deal with this. But part of you goes: ‘Shit…’.”

Lomu’s four-try stampede destroyed England who were out of contention after 20 minutes although they managed to limit the damage to a 45–29 score.

Carling said: “Your World Cup is over. Everything’s over. I was thinking: ‘Christ this is embarrassing.’ I was proud of the way we came back but Lomu was unstoppable.

“I remember he scored in a corner. But before he went over I hit him as hard as I could. He hardly moved.

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“There hasn’t been, in 25 years a guy as powerful as him. That’s incredible.”

On World Rugby, Carling slammed the establishment saying: “We need to look outside the same old countries that command most of the money and votes.

“Guys, do we really want this game to grow, or just keep it for our friends? That attitude has got to be broken.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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