Ex-England midfielder Will Greenwood has colourfully hailed the different attributes of the 2003 World Cup-winning back row of Richard Hill, Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio. Writing in his latest Telegraph newspaper column, Greenwood explained how a team or partnership that is too similar will never be as powerful as one that contrasts and complements.

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“A high-performance team should have shared values, goals and behaviours, but it should celebrate differences in every form,” he reasoned. “In our team, nobody was individually perfect, but we all complemented and covered for each other. Think of ‘The Holy Trinity’: Richard Hill, Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio.

Back was the chop tackler, the uber-fit link man. Hill was like The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, patrolling, cleaning, tidying, fixing. Dallaglio was more like Thor, the huge character with the big plays, the big runs, and the big jaw.”

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How opposites attract and become successful combinations was evident in Greenwood’s own midfield partnership with Matt Tindall, although it’s only with age that he has come to appreciate its value.

“The older I get the more aware I am of how different Mike Tindall and I were. I was the anorak, he was more laid back. I hated contact, he loved it. I wanted to pass, he wanted to run. I wanted to drift, he wanted to get in faces and smash. We both had weaknesses but put us together and we conquered the world.”

Greenwood first glimpsed the value of different styles when touring with Ian McGeechan’s Lions in 1997. “Training was a seven-week rugby masterclass. I was run over, run around, dump-tackled, and cut down at full stride by a centre pairing that is the dictionary definition of complementary difference: Scott Gibbs and Jeremy Guscott. 

“Gibbs, the enforcer. A dump truck who would smash anything. Guscott, all elegance and fluidity, would glide past you. All curve.”

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