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England must be fearless - Corry

England have nothing to fear ahead of their bid for World Cup glory in New Zealand, according to former captain Martin Corry.

The past 15 months have seen the Red Rose make encouraging progress under Martin Johnson's stewardship, claiming the RBS 6 Nations title and securing home and away victories over Australia. But they stuttered during their warm-up Tests against Wales before ending with a strong performance as Ireland were blown away in Dublin.

"I think England have been inconsistent so there is not a huge amount of confidence," said Corry. "But England have been very good at times and in the last 12 months they have beaten everyone in their side of the draw."

He added: "There is no-one who should scare them. They have beaten France and Australia so if you are optimistic you can see them getting to the final, but a pessimist may say they will not get beyond the quarter-finals.

"The warm-up games are really hard to judge. I think Ireland were treating theirs as training matches. But I was impressed with England's intensity against Ireland, we did not see that in either game against Wales. They need to take that in to the tournament, if they can do that week in week out they will be tough to stop."

While there will be plenty of scrutiny on England's performances, there is no doubt that the host nation, who get the tournament under way against Tonga on Friday are the team under the most pressure.

The All Blacks will again start a World Cup as favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy, but the weight of a public desperate to see 24 years of longing come to an end on home turf puts them in an unenviable position.

Corry believes that pressure may again get to Graham Henry's men as the competition progresses, and also feels that their defeat to Australia at the end of the Tri Nations has highlighted a weakness that teams can exploit when facing the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

He said: "The pressure the All Blacks are under is ridiculous. They are the best team in the world but once people start to talk about it being 24 years since they won it and the pressure they are under it will play on their minds.

"When Australia beat them recently in the Tri Nations they played at an incredibly high intensity and physicality. South Africa are going to be the side who can hit those levels."


From Belfast Telegraph