WORLD CUP hero Jason Robinson believes it is “only a matter of time” before Owen Farrell is named England’s outright captain but is worried a power vacuum exists around the Saracens man.
Farrell currently shares the armband with Dylan Hartley but with the hooker struggling to retain his place, a change of tack may be needed from Eddie Jones before next year’s World Cup.
Speaking to The Rugby Paper on the 15th anniversary of English rugby’s greatest day, Robinson said: “Farrell is now the go-to man for English rugby. Hartley is another leader but there is a difference. When you pick the team, Owen Farrell’s is the first name out of the hat – for his kicking and the way he runs the show and takes control when he plays at 10.
“He’s no different to his father, he absorbs the pressure and thrives off it.
“It is probably only a matter of time before he becomes captain in his own right but, for me, it doesn’t matter really. If he is captain or not you are going to get the same thing from him – 100 per cent. Very rarely does his performance drop below a certain level, you never see him getting a 5 or 6 out of 10. Owen runs that team.”
Robinson, scorer of England’s only try in the 2003 World Cup win against Australia, says leadership ran through Clive Woodward’s team and challenges Farrell’s team-mates to match his consistency. And if they can reproduce that performance against the All Blacks, he says a second World Cup win is possible.
“I think one of the differences between the teams is that this team now probably doesn’t have the same leadership as we did,” he said. “We were very lucky to have so many leaders, a lot of club captains and a lot of players who had been around the block. It wasn’t always Martin Johnson making decisions.”
He adds: “There’s no doubt in my mind they can do it. There are still a few players out, like the Vunipolas, who will add to this side. Against the All Blacks it was like a completely different team – a team that we’d been hoping to see for some time. Although they lost by a point, mentally they would have taken a lot of positives – it was a game they should’ve won and that has to be the benchmark.
“We know we’ve got a team that can compete with the best and beat the best. What they need to do now is get some consistency in performance and selection.”
Robinson believes recent results have blown the World Cup wide open.
“The top six teams in the world know that on their day they can beat New Zealand, 12 months ago it wasn’t like that. They are more vulnerable than they have been for a few years, but New Zealand always come back from defeats stronger and they will be a better team at the World Cup than they are now.”
Winning the World Cup has been a game-changer for Robinson and his team-mates and the 44-year-old hopes the current squad experience such euphoria.
“Having played in three World Cups (two Union and one League) and got to the final in all of them, it is the toughest thing you can do as a team. But it would be, if they get it right, their greatest achievement.”
JON NEWCOMBE was speaking to Jason Robinson, an ambassador for Fuzion100, the Official Rehydration Partner of England Rugby. For more info visit: www.cocofuzion100.co.uk
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