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The advice Will Carling has given new England skipper Tom Curry

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

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New England skipper Tom Curry has spoken about the advice he has received from the legendary Will Carling which helped him go from a “last resort” choice as Sale skipper last June to now leading his country into battle when the 2022 Guinness Six Nations opens on Saturday away to Scotland. Curry has taken on the responsibility with both Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes unavailable through injury.

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The decision by Eddie Jones means that the 23-year-old is the youngest player to captain England since Carling himself was appointed in 1988 and Curry spoke on Thursday about the journey he has been on in the past eight months from Sale and the Lions and on into the England leadership group that is regularly advised by Carling, the 1991 World Cup final skipper.

Sale boss Alex Sanderson outlined on Wednesday how he felt Curry has come on massively in terms of the influence he wielded on the group since his return from the Lions tour to South Africa, but the back-rower explained the seeds for his promotion as England captain were actually sown while at his Manchester club at the tail-end of last season’s Gallagher Premiership campaign. 

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“We had a few injuries in terms of Jono (Ross) and Lood (de Jager), so I basically got to a point where I was last resort. I had a conversation about how Alex didn’t want to distract me or take anything away from my game.  

“We had a conversation before that in terms of how do you want to do it [captain the side], how do you want to go about this? I just wanted to be myself and we agreed – and that is what I am really focusing on, how can you do this but stay true to yourself and do it your way?” questioned Curry before answering: “Lead by example. We will find out. It is a journey. For now, that is my focus and how I see it. 

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“It means a hell of a lot. You grow up wanting to play for England so to be named as captain is pretty emotional but the big thing is that we do a job. Speaking to Will, he has been a really good influence. As a leadership group, we speak to him two or three times a week so we get a lot of advice on how he sees it and how we can improve. He is always asking questions and he has been a great influence on the group as a whole.”

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What has Carling’s standout advice been for Curry, a player likened on Thursday by England boss Jones to an early-day Richie McCaw? “Be yourself. Be yourself and enjoy it. I had messages from Jono to Al, Eddie, these voices you listen to and it is pretty similar, it is ‘Be yourself but mostly enjoy it’.”

Curry also spoke about how he was inspired when he first came on the international scene by the way that regular England skipper Farrell went about the business of captaincy. “Massive in terms of seeing the way he operates when you first came in and seeing how competitive he is day-to-day. 

“Everyone is different in terms of their characters and how they are and how they want to be. You draw yourself away from that because everyone is different, so it is finding the way you want to do it, But his competitve spirit is massive and is very inspirational.”

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