Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mike Brown: I have lost all trust in my England team-mates after Rugby World Cup leaks

England's Mike Brown
England's Mike Brown

Gavin Mairs

Mike Brown says he no longer has any trust in the England squad in the wake of the stories that have emerged from sources within the camp about the ill-fated World Cup campaign.

Brown says he has been frustrated by England players who have made criticisms of Stuart Lancaster’s tenure under the cloak of anonymity and said the subsequent fall-out following their World Cup exit had “completely shot” his trust in the squad.

The Harlequins full-back insisted that he did not think “anyone was good enough in an England shirt” to make criticisms following the side’s pool stage exit, following defeats by Wales and Australia.

The 30 year-old, who was one of England players who enhanced their reputation during the tournament with stand-out performances, admitted the side’s pool stage exit had been “massively disappointing”.

But he said the subsequent stories that have emerged had been difficult to take, such as revelation in The Sun on Sunday that the team’s kit manager, Dave Tennison, was under investigation by the Rugby Football Union after allegations he had encouraged players before the tournament to invest in shares in an energy company only for the share price to collapse.

“There has been a story at the weekend which is absolutely ridiculous so the trust has gone now as far as I am concerned,” Brown insisted. “I worked so hard to play in a World Cup and I am passionate about playing for England.

“It is just difficult because we have not left it in a good place and it doesn’t help with all these people deciding to pipe up in the squad that probably shouldn’t be, probably anonymously.

“I don’t think anyone was good enough in an England shirt to be piping up saying: ‘This was wrong, that was wrong’ and that sort of thing.

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“If they are going to say something, I think they should put their name to it. That is going to make it even more difficult when we (the England squad) do meet up because I think the trust has been, as you can imagine, completely shot now.

“But it will come out who it was at the end of the day so it will be interesting when it does because I will be one of the first people to speak to them."

Brown claimed the squad would now require a clear-the-air meeting when it reassembles in January ahead of the Six Nations Championship if it is to move on from their failed campaign.

“It is going to be hard for me to call anyone team-mates until we meet up,” Brown added. “Yes, it is going to be tough. Everything good is built on trust. Everything good at Harlequins is built on trust.

“There is no trust (with England) now, as far as I am concerned. But it will all get sorted out with whoever is in charge or whoever is there. It will get sorted out, to move the team forwards, it always does in team environments.

“It is disappointing. It will come quick for all of us but we have to focus on our clubs now and doing the best job we can.”

Brown will first turn his focus to his club’s opening fixture in the European Challenge Cup against Montpellier at The Stoop on Thursday. He has also set himself new targets with England, and insists that the squad does not require a major overhaul going into the Six Nations.

“In terms of the group of players we don’t need to rebuild,” Brown added. “If you look at that squad, you keep the majority of that together – obviously there will be people who play well and put their hands up that can force their way in – but you could end up with a squad with the same cap number of the New Zealand team that has just gone.

“There are some quality young players coming through, (Anthony) Watson, (Jack) Nowell, (Henry) Slade, (George) Ford and Faz (Owen Farrell) and there are other players who did not get picked who can push their way in as well.

“So if you keep the majority of those players together and you don’t need to rebuild in that sense but I think in terms of trust, given everything that has happened after the World Cup, that definitely needs rebuilding in my eyes.”

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