`I am hoping not to come across him again. He's a freak - and the sooner he goes away the better'

Most people in the England camp felt they were beaten by one man. Owen Slot reports

As England reflected on their crushing defeat by the All Blacks in yesterday's World Cup semi-final, one man dominated their thinking. Jonah Lomu may have needed his 14 team-mates to score his four tries, but the way Will Carling's men saw it they were beaten by No 11 alone.

Carling himself set the tone as he was interviewed in the immediate aftermath of the final whistle. Looking somewhat dazed, he smiled a little ruefully and said, "I am hoping not to come across him again. He's a freak - and the sooner he goes away the better."

Carling paid tribute to the All Blacks' all-round performance, but made it clear that Lomu had been the outstanding threat. "New Zealand have all the traditional strengths of an All Blacks side, and they are very disciplined as well as being a very fast and very dynamic team. But when you have someone on your left wing like Lomu, then it gives you an enormous advantage.

"Without being funny, if New Zealand didn't have him then the game could have been very different. Today the All Blacks played amazing rugby, but the real difference appeared out on their left wing.

"We tried to stop him but we couldn't and that's very sad for us. But the man is unbelievable. He's very balanced, has that incredible power and anyone coming on to the ball like he did is almost impossible to stop. He's an amazing athlete. When he's coming on to the ball like he did, I don't think there are many people who could stop him."

Jack Rowell, the England coach, agreed with his skipper. "New Zealand have a phenomenon on the wing," he said. "Someone from rugby league should have bought him before the World Cup started!"

"If you take Lomu out of the equation, things could have been very different. There were 16 points between us at the end and Lomu scored 20 for New Zealand.

"The New Zealanders have a lot of the Western Samoan-type strengths in their back line, and we saw in our group matches how dangerous their runners can be. Allied to that there is the traditional strengths of the All Black forwards and that is quite a combination. But Mr Lomu does have a big influence on the game.

"We got ourselves used to the pace of the game in the second half and it was more of a match then, especially as we were making our first up- tackles."

Rory Underwood, who watched his brother have to cope with much of Lomu's breaks from the relative safety of the other wing, said: "I have never seen anything like that before. He had a tremendous game and as a team we are disappointed that we didn't stop him. We set out to tackle him but we couldn't bring him down."

The New Zealand camp, only too well aware of the importance of Lomu to their World Cup ambitions, guard Lomu with an extraordinary paranoia. He has been shielded from the press in the manner of Ryan Giggs, and even after yesterday's triumph was not allowed to talk to reporters. They are also all too aware that Saturday's final may be his last game of rugby union.

"I'm sure that our prime minister will put the crown jewels up for sale to keep him in the game," said Laurie Mains, the All Blacks coach.

Before the game there was much talk about Lomu being weak in defence, but yesterday England barely tested him. When they did, he generally acquitted himself impressively, repeatedly dispatching Tony Underwood into touch by his jersey.

After one such manouevre Lomu, perhaps responding to the criticisms of his defensive capabilities, appeared intent on making a point to Underwood. England did try to find the space behind Lomu, but when they did he defied predictions and turned quickly to deal with the threat.

Would Ian Hunter have done any better than Tony Underwood? It seems unlikely. No wing in the World Cup has yet come close to it. On Saturday, it will be James Small's turn, and who in the world would envy him?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future