Six Nations
England 'inhibited' by Johnson - Dallaglio
February 2, 2010
England captain Martin Johnson flanks No.8 Lawrence Dallaglio, England v Georgia, Rugby World Cup 2003, Subiaco Oval, Perth, Australia, October 12, 2003
Dallaglio tasted Rugby World Cup glory in 2003 alongside Johnson © Getty Images

England legend Lawrence Dallaglio believes the current squad must step out of manager Martin Johnson's shadow if they want to lay claim to this year's Six Nations crown.

In a hard-hitting attack on the eve of this year's Championship, the former back-row forward has criticised the players for being in awe of Johnson and demanded that they take more responsibility for themselves as they bid to end a seven-year drought in the battle for northern hemisphere supremacy.

"What we all want to see is players having more input into where they are going, what style of rugby they are to play -- in other words, England need to be more player-led and less coach-driven," said Dallaglio, who played alongside Johnson for much of his 12-year international career. "The challenge for Martin is that he is such an iconic guy they don't want to put their hand up; everyone is so afraid of him. They don't want to say, 'What are you on about?' They need to challenge the coaches. When you have that void, you become led by your coaches.

In the interview with The Times newspaper, Dallaglio also urged the senior squad members to up their game ahead of their opening Six Nations clash with Wales at Twickenham on Saturday. "Players need to step up and say, 'It is Saturday. Now we are in charge.' We don't have a core of players who identify the style and say we are going to play the Wasps way or the Leicester way. When you get an overriding strength of personality in the team, that is important, and they say to the coaches, 'This is the way we are going to play.' Players have to take ownership of the team and the game and those strong personalities -- Jonny Wilkinson, Nick Easter and Lewis Moody -- need to come out. Any successful team is led by the players. We were. That is what you want as a coach."

Dallaglio, capped 85 times by his country, remains confident England will put together a strong showing in this year's Championship but insists the pressure is building on Johnson and his backroom team. "The management are rightly under massive pressure," he said. "A 50 per cent success rate is not good enough. But the players will have a huge desire. England have the biggest gap to make up in terms of where they are and where they want to be. Confidence will be everything. It's all about momentum. Beat Wales [at Twickenham on Saturday] and who knows?"


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