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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Matthew Cooper

Clive Woodward bemoans Farrell-Smith decision as England players have "fear factor"

Sir Clive Woodward has claimed England are still struggling with a "fear factor" that will "take time" for new head coach Steve Borthwick to eradicate following their 29-23 defeat to Scotland in the Six Nations.

Woodward, who coached England to victory at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, believes England kick too much because they were "programmed" under former coach Eddie Jones to "minimise risk in their own half".

"There is still a fear factor in the England players, a legacy of the Eddie Jones era that will take time for Borthwick to eradicate," Woodward wrote in a column for the Daily Mail. "England were programmed under Jones to minimise risk in their own half.

"That meant box kicking too often and kicking the ball away. England wouldn't have dreamt of running the ball from their own 22 as Scotland did several times. The change to a more attacking approach won't happen overnight, but it must take place."

Woodward also believes Borthwick cannot persist with playing both Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell, claiming it is "holding the team back" and suggesting Manu Tuilagi should return at inside centre against Italy.

"England created opportunities, but the partnership between Smith and Owen Farrell is just not working," Woodward added. "I understand why they were picked as the 10-12 combination for this game because England lost three centres to injury. But I think if that hadn’t happened, Borthwick would have gone for Farrell as the starting fly-half.

Woodward believes England cannot continue playing both Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith (David Rogers/Getty Images)

"Scotland ran rings around England at 10, 12 and 13. Their centres Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones were outstanding and played outside a world-class talent in Finn Russell. England weren't at that level in midfield. It was almost like watching Premiership backs against some from the Championship.

"[Attack coach, Nick] Evans and Smith are close because of their Harlequins connection, but I think England have now got to choose one or the other when it comes to him or Farrell. I feel sorry for Farrell. He really is a world-class No 10 but isn't at that level as an inside centre.

"Sunday's match against Italy could be a chance to bring Manu Tuilagi back into the fold to try to get him firing as he hasn't been at his best this season — though Borthwick will be wary after Italy so nearly shocked France yesterday. We still don't know England's best 10-12-13 combination and it is holding the team back."

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