Six Nations
Henry blasts talent-wasting England
ESPNscrum Staff
January 30, 2012
Graham Henry talks to the press, Portrait session, Heritage Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, December 29, 2011
Graham Henry has taken aim at England's approach © Getty Images

Graham Henry has described England as "world champions at wasting talent" and accused the team of playing a game based on fear.

The World Cup-winning coach questioned whether England could ever realise their full potential with the approach they used in New Zealand in 2010. Henry, who was at one stage linked with England's top job, pinpointed the problem as a reluctance to use attacking players.

"England has top-drawer attacking players [but] they are seldom used," Henry told "It sometimes seems that England are world champions at wasting talent.

"At national level and at club level English teams are far too worried about securing possession. They are obsessed with sealing off the ball carrier. They are paranoid that an opponent might steal the ball and so everyone jams on the brakes and seals off possession. It is fearful and often illegal.

"OK, so the opposition can't get at the ball, but there is no dynamic forward momentum and nobody is being shifted out of the defensive line. No wonder England had trouble scoring tries against the better teams at the World Cup."

Henry urged interim coach Stuart Lancaster to encourage the England side to shift the ball into wide areas during their Six Nations opener against Scotland next Saturday.

"England has a back line to get excited about but they will never fulfil their potential unless the team can win quick ball," he said. "This needs a total change of policy for the Six Nations. England must go to Murrayfield and stick it to the opposition. They have to smash the Scottish forwards past the ball instead of conservatively stopping at the tackled player in order to secure possession.

"A country with over a million players should be the best team in the world and England's potential in the backs is as good as it has ever been. Ben Foden's a good player, Chris Ashton is a handful and Delon Armitage has always impressed me. But how frustrated those players must get in a white shirt. England and the English clubs play a game based on fear and a generation of promising backs are dying on their feet. That has to change."

Henry also expressed an interest in coaching an English club side, but took aim at Saracens who will provide most of England's back-line in Edinburgh.

"Saracens are England's leading qualifiers in the Heineken Cup but few expect them to win the competition with a game that is as petrified as England's efforts at the World Cup. English conservatism around the tackle is an attitude that appears to be ingrained in most of the players."

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