Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cohen's a Victim of England Curse

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cohen's a Victim of England Curse

Article excerpt


THE only consolation for Ben Cohen, the latest England player to be struck by the World Cup curse, is that his plight was compared to the slump in fortunes suffered by Tiger Woods and Serena Williams.

It was very thoughtful of Alan Solomons, the Northampton coach, to try and bring Cohen down softly by sticking his name alongside those world sports stars but the truth is very different.

While Woods and Williams are - by their own standards - below par at the moment, Cohen is off his game compared to any average player in the Zurich Premiership.

In truth, Cohen has been struggling ever since the World Cup Final last November in Sydney and he's not alone.

As our table shows, the curse of the World Cup has manifested itself in many ways - retirement, injury, loss of form and omission from the national squad because of a fledgling television career.

It paints a very bleak picture for acting head coach Andy Robinson as he prepares for the autumn internationals against Canada, South Africa and Australia. If Robinson follows the line taken by Clive Woodward, the man he wants to replace at the helm full time, then form and fitness will be the criteria for selection - ruling Cohen out immediately and putting Will Greenwood and Steve Thompson's places under threat.

Cohen has scored 29 tries in 43 Tests, but that only protected him until linking back up with Northampton where new coach Solomons has been waiting to see a return to form by the left wing.

It never came and Solomons said: "Ben has struggled a bit for form over the last two games. He agrees that in these particular circumstances he should drop down to the bench. He is determined to put matters right. Ben has shown in the past that he is a strong player and I have no doubt he will come out of this slump.

"Players suffer slumps in all sports, such as Tiger Woods and Serena Williams - it is just the nature of the beast."

The problems hampering England can be traced back to the final whistle at Stadium Australia on 22 November. The long build-up to the World Cup asked so much of the players and coaches that nothing was left for the rest of the season, leading to a lacklustre Six Nations campaign. …

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