Friday, December 25, 2009

Will Greenwood: Six Nations glory is not a hysterical pipe dream

It’s in your hands: Jonny Wilkinson and Co need to start believing in themselves again

Greenwood was a key member of the 2003 World Cup winners but is now a respected critic, a role that has seen him lumped together with every other ex-player or media type pointing out the deficiencies of the current England coaching and playing set-up.

Johnson has dismissed much of the criticism that followed the defeats by New Zealand and Australia and a scrappy victory over Argentina as "ridiculous" and "hysterical".

However, Greenwood is still concerned by England's lack of attacking flair and guile and is calling for action from the management before the team's next match, against Wales at Twickenham, on 6 February.

"There will be guys coming back from injury by the Six Nations and, with England having Wales and Ireland at home, we have to go in thinking we can win the title," he said.

"The England coaches have to believe this, exude that confidence and get the players looking more comfortable. When you think Jonny Wilkinson, Riki Flutey, Ugo Monye and Delon Armitage, you say: 'Yes, come on'.

"This is the most frustrating thing for the older, so-called hysterical players because we look down the squad list in the backs and forwards and ask: 'Why have we looked so ponderous?' There isn't any personal agenda here - it's the frustration being generated.

"This England squad can do well in the Six Nations and we just need something to get us out of our seats. I know rugby is about winning but you need that excitement."

Although Johnson reacted badly to the flak, Greenwood insists criticisms were made for the right reasons.

"I've been in a dressing room when things haven't been going well and it's not nice," said the 37-year-old.

"People are not criticising for fun, it's because we know there is a way out and we want it to come sooner rather than later."

Greenwood will be one of thousands of fans on their feet applauding rugby brilliance at Twickenham tomorrow, when the Barbarians take on New Zealand for the MasterCard Trophy.

While the former Harlequins centre accepts the match is not a "normal" international, he believes England could learn a thing or two from the ambition that will be shown.

Greenwood (right), who scored 31 tries in 55 Tests, said: "England haven't looked comfortable in the clothes they have been wearing as individuals or as a unit.

"There isn't a massive amount of difference in terms of quick ball the various teams have won. However, players like those at Twickenham tomorrow will go for the jugular and it's frightening - their conversion rate of chances created and finished is the most damaging one."

The Barbarians backs include Springbok flyer Bryan Habana, Australian No10 Matt Giteau, All Black wing Joe Rokocoko and Lions centre Jamie Roberts to highlight the talent being unleashed on a New Zealand side that defeated France last weekend.

"November has been a depressing time for Northern Hemisphere teams - Ireland apart - and when I looked at the squad assembled by the Babarians I nearly fell off my chair because it could be the game we have been waiting for in terms of mouthwatering prospects.

"I would pay good money just to train with these guys," added Greenwood.

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