WILL CARLING believes that Owen Farrell can do what he didn’t – and lift the World Cup with England in 2023.
Former skipper Carling, now a leadership mentor for Eddie Jones’ squad, took his side to their first final in 1991, where they lost 12-6 to Australia at Twickenham.
And after Jones’ class of 2019 were humbled by winners South Africa in Japan eight months ago, England’s youngest ever captain has predicted revenge in France, led by 83-capped fly-half Farrell.
Carling, who was handed the England captaincy when he was just 22, said: “We are a young team and they are hugely impressive – Owen is great – and there is a lot to come out of this team.
“It’s very painful for them. But I said to them: ‘In ’91, we weren’t the best team in the world and we could have won a World Cup.’
“I think England can hold their hands up and can say they were one of the best teams in 2019 and that’s why, in a way, I think it is more painful.
“I’m hopeful in 2023 they will put it right.”
England produced one of the greatest ever performances in Japan as they demolished New Zealand in the semi-final.
However, whereas everything went right that night in Yokohama during a 19-7 victory – nothing went right a week later against the Springboks.
And Carling, affectionately called ‘Uncle Bill’ by the players, and who rarely speaks publicly about the current regime, has now given his reasons why.
The 54-year-old said: “It’s tiny percentages and I think they had focused so hard on the semi-final for months, because that was probably where they were going to come across New Zealand.
“It is so easy in hindsight, when you look back, but that was the crucial bit. You think if you can get over that one then they were the best team in the world.
“But I think South Africa managed themselves emotionally. And, these are not excuses, if you look out our run-in and the teams we played, compared to their run-in, they got there that little bit fresher and emotionally they got themselves to an absolute peak.
“I think emotionally, we peaked at the semi-final and it is very, very hard to get yourself back down and then right back up.
“I’m amazed we were still in that game with 60 minutes gone. They had dominated the scrum so much – and that is where I look at the players and have so much admiration for them.
“Because they should have hammered us, really, with the domination they had.”
England are still waiting for final confirmation of when they will play their final Six Nations game after pandemic cut the tournament short.
Their trip to Rome is set for the end of October, with World Rugby set to rubber-stamp the exact date this week.
And even though there has been turmoil at Twickenham with revenue losses of £107million and 139 redundancies, chief exec Bill Sweeney didn’t hesitate at handing Jones a new deal to take the side on to France in three year’s time.
And Carling, speaking on an SGH Sporting Events Facebook event added: “Eddie has done an amazing job.
“If we lose a game or a couple we go absolutely nuts. But he has the highest win percentage of any England coach ever.
“He is a very shrewd boy and players are fond of him. I’m a big fan.”