Woodward – ‘Kiwi locks would walk into England team’

Date published: October 12 2017

World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward believes All Blacks locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock would walk into the England team.

And in there with them would be South African lock and captain Eben Etzebeth.

Woodward, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, made his comment in his Daily Mail column after the All Blacks' 25-24 win at Newlands on Sunday.

The game had showcased the best the Rugby Championship had to offer, he said.

"Contrary to what the critics say, this tournament is not moving in the wrong direction," said Woodward.

"The highlight for me was the refusal of either side to kick the ball dead after the klaxon went for half-time. Both teams were ultra positive and wanted to play and entertain.

"The result was an incredible nine minutes and 58 seconds of overtime as first South Africa, then New Zealand, then South Africa again piled on the pressure." 

Woodward said 'mindlessly kicking the ball dead on half-time and on full-time', unless sides were defending a narrow lead, had frustrated him for years. Players' careers could be over in a flash, they should savour every minute they could be on the field.

"World rugby needs a strong South Africa and it is clear their skipper Eben Etzebeth – who is going to be one of the greats – is dragging them back to the top.

"Although England are rightly proud of their strength in depth at lock, the Boks captain and the two Kiwis – Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock – would all walk into Eddie Jones' team," he said.

Woodward said that after a match like the All Blacks and Springboks played, he wondered what those former players from both countries now plying their trade in Europe felt about missing the chance to play in a game like that.

"There is still nothing that compares to playing for your country and you should never give that up lightly," he added.

COMMENTS