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The All Blacks great rookie skipper Tom Curry has been likened to

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has backed Tom Curry to impress after the 23-year-old back-rower was named the youngest England captain since Will Carling in 1988. The Sale player has been appointed to the role after injury ruled both Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes out of contention for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener away to Scotland. 

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Farrell was scratched from the entire championship on January 26 when he underwent an operation on a fresh ankle injury suffered at Saracens training while Lawes was ruled out from selection on Tuesday due to an ongoing issue with a concussion picked up last month when playing for Northampton.  

That left vice-captain Curry primed for promotion and England boss Jones has suggested the influence that his new skipper wields on the squad in similar to how Richie McCaw cast his spell during the early years of his stellar All Blacks career which culminated in back-to-back World Cup triumphs.  

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Players lead by example and there is no better player in our squad than Tom Curry to do that,” enthused Jones after he named an England team showing seven changes from the XV that started the last match of the November series against South Africa. 

“He will lead by example. He reminds me of a young Richie McCaw that was able to lead by example and as his career progresses, there will be other bit and pieces of his captaincy that goes with that.

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“But at the start of his career, it is all about leading by example, getting the team on the front foot. It goes in line with how we want to play the game. We want to go there and get on the front foot, we want to take Scotland on,” added Jones, going on to explain that it was during the autumn when the influence of Curry, a Test player with the 2021 Lions in South Africa, really grabbed his attention.   

“It has been since autumn. He is a player that players like to play with. Not dissimilar to Owen. Owen was similar. Players like to play with those sorts of players that like to lead by example so he has got an opportunity. We are hopeful that Courtney will be back at some stage but for this week he (Curry) is the most important player to take that big C.” 

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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