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Dean Ryan: We need hard men to win World Cup

Dean RyanDean Ryan believes England need five or six dominant personalities to emerge if they are to have any chance of lifting next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Ryan, director of rugby at Worcester, was disappointed by England’s failure to seize at least one morale-boosting Test victory during their recent tour of New Zealand.

He believes Stuart Lancaster’s squad possesses a solid core group of competent international players, but he insists it still lacks hard-nosed, world-class operators in the mould of 2003 World Cup winners Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery.

Ryan told The Rugby Paper: “That 2003 group had five or six of them who had really forceful personalities who all had an opinion as well as world-class ability.

“Dallaglio, Johnson, Vickery, Back, Dawson all had forceful opinions that could drive a team, but the current England side have yet to make that transition from being, ‘Sh*t, I’m delighted to be here’ to ‘We’ve got to win a Test match, how are we going to do it?’

Of England’s series against the All Blacks, Ryan concludes: “I thought that could be a real marker for England – and they only needed to win one of those Tests to do that.

“With players going out at different times, it would have been a real stepping stone. But at the end there was a feeling of real disappointment, particularly after that final game when England didn’t front-up.

“I’m sure everyone involved in England – Stuart, the players and fans – feels the same because each Test offered an opportunity and they never nailed it.

“But looking at the squad, there isn’t a Dan Carter or enough truly world-class players. What we have is a decent core of players and five or six who are competing to be world-class, but you need some of those to really push forward now and kick-on.

“It will be a disappointment to Stuart that nobody kicked-on from being ‘international competent’ to ‘international competitive’ at the top end. They’re going to need three or four of those to win a World Cup.”

With England’s centre combinations far from decided, Ryan believes incoming Rugby League man Sam Burgess could be an option to partner Manu Tuilagi.

He added: “They still have question marks there and it will be interesting to see what they do with Burgess because No.12 is still an open area.

“The combination with Manu has still to be decided so Burgess will be an interesting watch. He’s probably the only late-comer into that potential squad.”

NEALE HARVEY

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