Truro-born rugby star's England return to get world cup preparations back on track
LUKE Cowan-Dickie’s return to the international fold can get England’s stuttering World Cup preparations back on track, according to former winger Ugo Monye.
Steve Borthwick’s side finished fourth in the Six Nations after winning just two of their five games, with a humbling 53-10 defeat against France at Twickenham setting alarm bells ringing with less than six months to go until their World Cup opener against Argentina in Marseille.
Exeter Chiefs hooker and Truro-born star Cowan-Dickie, who will swap Sandy Park for French Top 14 side Montpellier at the end of the season, was ruled out of the Championship with an ankle injury but looks set to be back fit in the summer ahead of this autumn’s tournament.
And Monye, who played 14 times for England between 2008 and 2012, believes the 29-year-old’s return will provide a much-needed boost for England after last weekend’s 29-16 defeat to Grand Slam champions Ireland.
“We have players coming back - the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry and to mention a few,” he said.
“The summer is going to be huge, that pre-season where you can put everyone in the melting pot and get that level of consistency of performance that we are looking for.
“The Six Nations wasn’t what we wanted it to be – but we have time.
“When I look at the individuals in the team, if we can reach our potential we will be a very competitive team come the World Cup.
“France was disappointing but hopefully, you can draw a line under it as an anomaly. That is not the expectation of performance though France were very good on the day.
“What we could take away watching the Ireland game was how we could be competitive, combative and challenge the number one side in the world.”
England’s performance against Ireland was marred by a controversial red card to full-back Freddie Steward, which was rescinded on Wednesday.
Steward was dismissed for what was deemed a dangerous tackle on Hugo Keenan, with focus once again turning onto the application of World Rugby’s High Tackle Framework.
But Monye called for calm amidst the furore that has since broken out.
“Mistakes happen, you can’t be too harsh on referees,” added Monye, who was speaking on a panel at Twickenham this week to mark the Women’s Sport Trust, O2 and the Rugby Football Union joining forces to deliver a long-term study into the visibility of the England women’s rugby team.
“We ask lots of players, we ask lots of referees.
“I was disappointed at the time; I didn’t think it was a red card and that is obviously the opinion of the citing commissioner as well. I am glad common sense has prevailed, just three or four days later.
“I am okay with the protocol, sometimes it is the application of law within the protocol.
“Referees are human. There were 60,000 people at the Aviva, if players feel pressure, referees feel pressure and sometimes they just get it wrong.
“Jaco Peyper is a brilliant referee, he just got it wrong on the day.”
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