Carling: Players have lost respect for Woodward

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The Independent Online

The former England captain, Will Carling, has questioned Clive Woodward's credentials as team coach in the wake of England's World Cup demise.

The former England captain, Will Carling, has questioned Clive Woodward's credentials as team coach in the wake of England's World Cup demise.

Carling blasted Woodward's preparation and selection techniques and claimed that many team members had lost respect for the coach since last week's 44-21 quarter-final mauling by South Africa.

Carling said: "I think the main question would be does he have the respect of the majority of the players - the impression I've got is that a lot of players seem to have lost that vital word, respect, for him. If that is the case he can't remain."

Woodward remains defiant in the wake of mounting criticism, with Carling's views echoing those of Woodward's predecessor as coach, Jack Rowell, last week.

Woodward told the Sunday Telegraph today that he had no intention of quitting unless the Rugby Football Union made it clear he was no longer wanted.

"It has never crossed my mind to resign," Woodward said. "If I wasn't wanted, and if the Rugby Football Union in the shape of Francis Baron, Brian Baister and Fran Cotton didn't think I was doing a decent job, then I would leave immediately.

"But I've spoken to all of them since the quarter-final and they have been very supportive.

"My contract ends in August and if they ask me to continue after that, I know I've the energy and commitment to do so but I'm not going to keep skiing uphill."

Carling stopped short of blaming Woodward entirely for England's premature World Cup demise, insisting the entire structure of the northern hemisphere game has to change before they can compete with the likes of New Zealand and Australia.

But he added: "I do think there are a number of faults which do lie with the manager. One is the preparation, one is the tactics and possibly also selection.

"I've looked at a number of selections in the build-up. No-one's really explained to me why if (Jonny) Wilkinson was going to be the fly-half for the World Cup why on earth didn't he play as fly-half in the Five Nations?

"I think if you look at the top sides, once they hit a World Cup they usually have a fairly settled, confident side. We didn't have that and I think selection for Woodward has not been one of his strengths.

"If he remains as England coach but they change the structure, the coach becomes pretty immaterial but I'm not sure if he has the vision to take that forward," Carling told Radio Five Live.

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