25.11.2022
SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England head coach Eddie Jones has RFU bigwigs in his pocket… it’s ridiculous!

As a head coach I constantly wanted to minimise the number of distractions to my team.

Ahead of a huge game with South Africa on Saturday, this England side have been distracted yet again by more headlines about Eddie Jones. I cannot believe the RFU keep allowing it to happen. Clearly there is no one there who understands top-level international sport and especially rugby, which in itself is bizarre.

This week, Jones’ name was front and centre in the media but not because of his role with England. It was for all the wrong reasons. There has been lots of talk about what Jones is going to do after England and the latest team he has been linked to is the USA on an eight-year deal.

Frankly, who cares? I’m bored by the whole thing. I don’t care what Jones does next. What I do care about is how he and the England side are faring now, especially as World Cup year approaches.

Talk over the coach’s future does not help any team. I don’t know where the USA story came from, but the RFU should not be allowing it to come out in the week of a big Test. It is the latest example which shows why Bill Sweeney and Conor O’Shea are totally out of their depth at the governing body. It is a shame the select committee for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not have time to question them yesterday about the way our international team is run.

If you believe Sweeney and O’Shea, a review has been done a couple of times but only by people who do not wish to be named! There are some things you just cannot make up.

They do not stand up to Jones. They nod when he tells them to nod. He does what he wants. Frankly, Jones has both Sweeney and O’Shea in his pocket.

Some reading this might argue the England players will not get distracted by media talk about Jones’s future. Nothing is further from the truth. Keeping possible distractions to a minimum is a key coaching skill. These distractions are just magnified if they involve the head coach.

England allowed themselves to get distracted by external factors after beating New Zealand in the semi-finals of the last World Cup. The result was they lost the final to South Africa, who were by far the better team. Distractions and a loss of focus can kill any team and did that day.

Look at the German football side at the World Cup in Qatar. I think they got distracted by their hands-over-the-mouth gimmick ahead of their game with Japan. What happened? They lost and were on the wrong end of a huge upset.

At the top, top level, all these little things add up which is why as a head coach you want to minimise and eradicate all of them if possible. The coach’s future should be kept out of the media.

England need to beat South Africa but there is nothing in Jones’s team that will worry the Springboks. Whatever happens this weekend, I don’t think we will have learned much, if anything, from the autumn campaign. It has been a huge missed opportunity for England.

I just don’t understand the constant chopping and changing. This time it is in the pack. Ellis Genge is one of England’s best players. Genge must start but he has been dropped to the bench. I’ve read Jones talking about bringing on players like Genge in the second half to match South Africa’s ‘Bomb Squad’. I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with that approach.

Two things. First, the best teams pick their side to win the match by the way THEY play, select accordingly, and then spend a minimum of time worrying about the opposition. The moment you select your team trying to match up to your rivals is the moment you are destined to come second. We have fantastic players to pick from in England. Let’s be confident in that.

South Africa are a good but beatable side and with Rassie Erasmus continually shooting them in the foot, they are not short of distractions of their own. That was not the case in the last Word Cup final when South Africa and Erasmus did everything right.

Second, you pick your best players to start the game and keep them on the field for as long as possible. Genge is undoubtedly in England’s first-choice XV.

So why is he not starting? I don’t buy this notion that players get tired and need taking off after 50 or 60 minutes for fresh replacements charged with adding new impetus.

Players should be fit enough to play 80 minutes and with the way rugby is today, the average ball-in-play time is nowhere near that number. It is more like 35 minutes.

If I was Genge I would be furious about being benched. England might struggle without him and a defeat would cap another underwhelming November.

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  • 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    Harry Kane tries to reassure his England teammates after Raheem Sterling’s World Cup exit

    England captain Harry Kane has reportedly spoke to his Three Lions teammates to calm nerves surrounding the safety of families and loved ones back home after Raheem Sterling’s London property was burgled.

    Sterling was forced to miss England’s last-16 World Cup victory over Senegal on Sunday after the star attacker unexpectedly headed back to the United Kingdom to comfort his family after their robbery ordeal.

    Concerned England supporters have reportedly boosted their home security while away on international duty in Qatar, while Spurs striker Kane has attempted to ease fears inside the dressing room according to the Mirror.

    Sterling’s partner Paige Milan and his children were out of the property at the time that thugs broke in and sought to cash-in on the England forward’s jewellery collection after stealing a luxury watch and more high-value items from his £6million London home.

    Kane is reportedly keen to fulfil his duties of being the national team skipper by attempting to raise moral inside the dressing room following Sterling’s sudden departure.

    England stars were rightly concerned about the safety of their own families back home, with a source telling of Kane’s efforts to reassure colleagues.

    ‘Harry takes his captain’s duties as seriously off the field as on.

    ‘He knows players’ families are really shaken up. It is a huge worry for the players as well.’

    ‘Harry knows how worried the players are,

    ‘He sees it as his job as skipper to keep morale and focus everyone on the France match. He reassured them. He wants Raheem to take as long as he needs.

    England will be hoping to have Sterling back in time for their mouth-watering quarter-final clash against France on Saturday.

    Gareth Southgate will be hoping to become the first England manager to lead the nation to successive World Cup semi-finals as the Three Lions attempt to lift the World Cup for just the second time in the country’s history.

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  • 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    Raheem Sterling ‘won’t return to England’s World Cup camp until his family is safe’ after burglary

    Raheem Sterling will not return to England’s World Cup camp until his family are safe, and has told friends that he needs to be ‘100 per cent sure’ before flying back to Qatar.

    The star has been left ‘shaken’ following the burglary at his £6million mansion, with neighbours yesterday claiming it was an ‘inside job’ by contractors, as he is said to be the fourth Chelsea player targeted by an organised gang.

    Thieves broke into the father of three’s £6million gated home before making off with a stash of watches and jewellery – prompting the shocked star to race home from Qatar to be with his family.

    Police were contacted around 9pm on Saturday, December 3 after Sterling’s partner Paige returned to find ‘a number of items including jewellery and watches’ had been stolen.

    A number of Sterling’s England teammates are understood to now be reviewing their own security in light of the frightening incident.

    The footballer, 27, hopes to return to Qatar for England’s quarter final match against France on Saturday — but will only do so if he feels his family are safe in their Surrey home.

    ‘Raheem has told everyone, “There is no way I’m going anywhere unless I’m 100 per cent sure that my family can be kept safe”. He is security conscious and part of the reason they moved into the property was that it is on a very exclusive estate, with regular security patrols,’ a source told The Sun.

    ‘Despite this, he has still managed to be targeted, which is very upsetting for Raheem and Paige. They have just moved back to London and want to feel safe.’

    A spokesman for Sterling said that ‘his focus is on being at home and supporting his family,’ they told The Mirror.

    Gareth Southgate will not put pressure on Sterling to rejoin the England squad after he flew home due to deal with the police investigation over the next 48 hours.

    England staff are in touch with Sterling but Chelsea are taking a lead role while he is in England.

    Yesterday a neighbour told MailOnline that they were convinced Sterling’s break-in was an ‘inside job’ as she revealed how a string of builders and removal vans had been at the house.

    She said: ‘I came back from an overnight flight on Saturday night just after 9pm and the police were outside. The estate WhatsApp group lit up and we all knew very quick it was a break-in and thankfully no one was hurt.

    ‘I’ve only seen him once walking his dogs, but I’ve seen the family and they are very young. I do feel desperately sorry for them as they have only just moved in.

    ‘It’s a pittance a month for the security and all the people on the chat know that Raheem’s family haven’t been signed up to the security.

    ‘They had dozens of removals vans, builders and electricians trooping in and out a few weeks ago and they all knew the access codes.

    ‘I’m sure it’s an inside job and the codes have been passed around because people would have been talking. How else would anyone know he was there?’

    Meanwhile, England defender Maguire spoke of his frustration over the incident.

    He said: ‘We’re out here giving everything and at home people are attacking us.

    ‘It is really disappointing to hear that Raheem has had to go home and get things done. We haven’t had time to talk to him, because our full focus was on the match.

    ‘The match could have gone differently because we lost Raheem. It is disappointing to lose him because of something out of our hands. We are all here for him.

    ‘It is extremely disappointing to hear that we are out here and give absolutely everything to our country, and then there are people at home attacking us.’

    A source close to the team said that captain Harry Kane is trying to keep the team’s morale up following the burglary.

    ‘Harry knows the players’ families are really shaken up by what has happened and that is a worry for the players themselves,’ they told The Sun.

    ‘Harry takes his captain’s duties as seriously off the field as on,’ another source told The Mirror.

    Investigators are now working to determine when a burglary reported at the home of England forward Raheem Sterling took place and say no witnesses have come forward at this stage to say armed suspects or threats of violence were involved.

    The 27-year-old Chelsea star was given leave to return to the UK from England’s World Cup camp in Qatar after he learned about the burglary.

    Sources close to Sterling had indicated on Sunday that armed intruders had broken into Sterling’s home while his family were inside, but an updated statement issued by Surrey Police this afternoon said the occupants of the house were not present during the burglary and that there was no evidence at this point of armed intruders or threats of violence being involved.

    ‘We are currently investigating a report of a burglary at an address in Oxshott, Leatherhead,’ the statement read.

    ‘On Saturday, December 3 the occupants returned to the address after arriving home from an international trip.

    ‘They contacted police just before 9pm to report a number of items of jewellery, including watches, had been stolen. Officers attended the address later that night and returned to speak to the occupants this morning.

    ‘At this time it remains unclear on which date the property was stolen and establishing this forms a key part of our investigation.

    ‘Enquiries into the full circumstances remain ongoing and officers will look at all available evidence including any CCTV opportunities.

    ‘We are aware of media reports stating there were armed suspects involved, however, at this time, we would reassure our communities that no witnesses have come forward to this effect and there are no reports of any threats of violence linked to this incident. Anyone with information should contact police directly if they have not already been spoken to.

    ‘No arrests have been made at this time.’

    The news of the break-in led to Sterling being unavailable for Sunday night’s 3-0 victory over Senegal, which has taken England into the World Cup quarter-finals.

    It is not yet clear whether the 27-year-old will return for Saturday’s match against France, with England boss Gareth Southgate admitting he and everyone else would have to ‘wait and see’ regarding Sterling’s availability.

    Southgate was asked about Sterling in the press conference following Sunday’s win over Senegal.

    ‘Raheem, as the FA statement says, is having to deal with a family situation, so he’s going back to England,’ he said.

    ‘We’ve got to give him time to try to resolve that or be there for his family. That’s the most important thing at this time, so we’re going to give him that space.

    ‘It didn’t impact team selection. I spent a lot of time with Raheem this morning, but you know you have days where events happen and you have to deal with them.

    ‘He’s on his way home and, yeah, we’re obviously mindful of him being allowed space and (having) privacy respected, so we don’t want to talk in too much detail.

    ‘Of course it’s not ideal for the group ahead of a big game, but it pales into insignificance – the individual is more important than the group in those moments.

    ‘So, I needed to look after the situation and then I had to pass it on to others to deal with this afternoon in order to get him home.’

    The Football Association offered extensive security guidance to players before leaving for Qatar and has an experienced security team on hand to advise and provide support as and when needed.

    Sterling is among dozens of top-flight footballers who have had their homes targeted by thieves.

    Several Manchester United players have been victims, with Tahith Chong, Victor Lindelof and Jesse Lingard all having break-ins early this year.

    Security experts have warned that footballers’ widely known schedules and obvious wealth increase the risk of their homes being targeted.

    Last month, Stoke City defender Josh Tymon appealed for help after thugs stole ‘everything of value’ from his house in Knutsford, Cheshire, including watches, bags, shoes, jewellery and a Range Rover Sport SVR.

    Liverpool ace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his fiancée Perrie Edwards were targeted in September, with a gang bursting into their £3.5million Cheshire property while they were with their 13-year-old son.

    In April, a 31-year-old man was arrested after Chelsea star Reece James had a safe stolen from his house in Surrey. James, 21, said robbers struck in September and made off with his Champions League, Super Cup and Euro 2020 medals.

    In September last year, Chelsea defender Reece James, 22, had his Surrey home targeted by a gang who stole his safe with the Champions League, Euro 2020 and, Super Cup medals inside.

    Two others in the team have been victims of similar crimes, with police investigating for a potential link, The Sun reported.

    In March, Manchester United star Paul Pogba revealed that his house was burgled while his two children were sleeping in their bedroom as he played in the Champions League.

    The medal he received after France won the World Cup in 2018 was stolen, as well as family jewellery.

    His teammate Victor Lindelof also had his home burgled in January while he was playing a game against Brentford.

    Sterling was last targeted in 2018 when he played for Manchester City and lived in Cheshire. But the gang were scared away when the alarm system was activated and left empty-handed.

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  • 2 часа, 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    LAWRENCE BOOTH’S RATINGS: England have a serious talent in Harry Brook and Ben Stokes is ‘heroic’

    Ben Stokes and England made good on their intentions to force a result against Pakistan with a stunning 74-run victory at Rawalpindi on Monday, thanks to stunning performances from Zak Crawley, Ollie Robinson, Harry Brook and Stokes himself.

    Opener Crawley made 172 runs across two innings to make good on the faith shown in him over the summer, while Brook starred for England with 240 from 181 balls in the Test, including eight sixes.

    With the ball Robinson excelled in conditions that ought not to have suited him and Stokes was his usual inspirational self in every facet of the game, despite not having the best Test of his life according to the figures.

    Here are LAWRENCE BOOTH’S ratings for the first Test in batting order.

    Zak Crawley – 9

    Contributed 172 stylish runs from 159 balls, vindicating England’s decision to stick with him after a difficult summer. Clearly loves batting against Pakistan.

    Ben Duckett – 8

    A first-ball duck in the second innings didn’t remove too much gloss from his century in the first, full of cheeky sweeps in his first Test for six years.

    Added 233 with Crawley in an alliance full of contrasts.

    Ollie Pope – 8.5

    Now averages 41 at No 3, having never batted there before the Stokes/McCullum era.

    A classy century was supplemented by some neat keeping in an emergency after Ben Foakes’s late withdrawal.

    Joe Root – 7.5

    The only one of the top five to miss out on a first-innings century, Root was impishly brilliant while making 73 in the second, even taking guard as a left-hander.

    On and off the field regularly to be sick.

    Harry Brook – 9.5

    Magnificent, even prompting assistant coach Paul Collingwood to label him a ‘powerful Joe Root’.

    Flat pitch or not, haul of 240 from 181 balls with eight sixes was outstanding. England have found a serious talent.

    Ben Stokes – 9

    Who cares if he made 41 and nought, and took just one wicket?

    His belief and passion drove England throughout this astonishing game, and his 11-over spell between lunch and tea was typically inspirational.

    Liam Livingstone – 4

    His Test debut did not go as planned. Out for nine in the first innings, he damaged his knee in the field and was unable to bowl. On his way home today.

    Will Jacks – 7.5

    Only learned he was making his Test debut on the morning of the game, hit a quick 30, then took six first-innings wickets to earn England a lead. He’ll never forget this.

    Ollie Robinson – 9

    A year ago, Robinson would have struggled to get through the last day. Here, he was heroic, in conditions that ought not to have suited him.

    His wickets of Agha Salman and Azhar Ali after tea were crucial.

    Jack Leach – 6.5

    He took three expensive wickets, but will never claim a more memorable one than Naseem Shah, clinching victory as the sun began to set.

    James Anderson – 9

    Second-innings figures of four for 36 from 24 overs on that pitch were simply ridiculous. And that was after being denied the new ball.

    At 40, the old dog keeps learning new tricks.

    Pakistan

    Abdullah Shafique 8, Imam-ul-Haq 8.5, Azhar Ali 7, Babar Azam 8, Saud Shakeel 7, Mohammad Rizwan 6, Agha Salman 7, Naseem Shah 7, Haris Rauf 5, Zahid Mahmood 3, Mohammad Ali 4.

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  • 2 часа, 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    CHRIS FOY: Eddie Jones believed he’d get it right at the World Cup, but results fell away

    Now the lights have gone out, Eddie Jones will be left with a deep sense of regret about being unable to complete his epic England mission. So near became so far.

    What a ride it has been. Often glorious, eventually frustrating and baffling and declining, but never, ever dull. Jones is set to be sacked after almost exactly seven years in one of rugby’s hottest seats, having turned England back into a thunderous juggernaut, before running out of road.

    Where to start? At the end. This had to happen, but the timing is far from ideal. No organisation can claim that any best-laid plans include a total overhaul nine months out from the biggest tournament in the sport — and barely two months before another important Six Nations campaign.

    Many will say the RFU should have acted sooner and that is what the results would suggest, but they wanted to believe in Jones and his conviction that he could win them the ultimate prize.

    That’s the thing about him; the Australian was, is and always will be a powerful and persuasive character. Right up until he reached the precipice, he was adamant that he knew how to solve myriad problems which had hampered his team and how to drive England towards their global objective. But the evidence kept undermining his once-indisputable arguments.

    Ultimately, there was no escaping the facts for ever. They appear to have caught up with Jones at last. England could only win five of their 12 Tests in 2022. Their last two Six Nations campaigns have returned four victories in 10 matches. They have become also-rans in Europe’s annual showpiece, which caused glaring doubts about what they could achieve next autumn in France.

    A series success in Australia in July briefly eased the pressure, but it ultimately served to paper over so many cracks. England prevailed Down Under with spirit and fight and sheer grafting determination, but without the flourishes to suggest that they were truly building another shiny edifice.

    What happened last month was further proof that progress was still elusive for Jones. He was steadfast in supporting the 10-12 axis of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell against a backdrop of external doubt, but elsewhere the selection wheel kept spinning.

    England didn’t seem to have established a preferred line-up or a coherent masterplan. They lost to Argentina, thrashed Japan, snatched a draw against the All Blacks with a late rally, then collapsed against South Africa.

    That final setback was the last straw for the RFU hierarchy, whose support for their head coach turned to dust in the face of a rare outpouring of unrest from the Twickenham stands. To hear the loyal hordes booing their team off the field after watching the weakened Boks win 27-13 hit home with the blazers in the posh seats.

    So, they have acted after running out of patience. In doing so, they have finally taken a stand against the official Red Rose party line that it will be alright on the night — the night being when the World Cup comes around.

    England fans had long since grown weary of the argument that Test defeats could be tolerated if the bigger picture was taking shape, partly on the basis that they were paying up to £200 per ticket and partly because the bigger picture was still alarmingly blurred.

    Steve Borthwick is going to have an almighty job on his hands. England need clarity and a sense of direction and the clock is ticking. They are crying out for selection stability, set-piece stability, attacking fluency and a freedom in their play, which has been painfully lacking of late. The salvage operation is a daunting one and time will tell whether the former Red Rose captain is up to it.

    While England have stalled since 2019, Borthwick still has a tough act to follow. When Jones took over from Stuart Lancaster, he immediately oversaw a record run of 18 straight Test wins. He won a Grand Slam at the first attempt and he guided the national team to an unprecedented series whitewash in Australia. There was a new mood of purpose and intent and confidence. The new head coach made England more assertive and they were unstoppable.

    Of course, eventually they did stop winning every game. The return to earth began in Dublin at the end of the 2017 Six Nations and then 2018 was the year when the regime ran into trouble. England lost six matches in a row — including a non-cap clash against the Barbarians at Twickenham — and, for the first time, Jones found himself under pressure.

    That time, he turned the tide. A revamp of his coaching staff paid off as John Mitchell and Scott Wisemantel brought new ideas and impetus. England were also buoyed by the emergence of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill — and the so-called ‘Kamikaze Kids’ were instrumental in their run to the World Cup final in 2019. It ended in tears in Yokohama and, ultimately, that would prove the last great peak of Jones’s tenure.

    While the coaching changes in 2018 had a revitalising impact, there have been too many along the way. It has become known as the ‘churn’ of the Jones regime; with coaches and staff coming and going with worrying frequency.

    They have often struggled with the intensity of the workaholic figurehead. The same could be said of many players who have found the England environment fierce and joyless, although the trusted core have been loyal to the last.

    Those such as Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and Kyle Sinckler have cause to salute the man who ignited their international careers. But many others have been sacrificed harshly and hurriedly — and not always for reasons which stood up to close scrutiny. Jones has always been single-minded in ignoring any outside clamour for or against certain players or tactics.

    At least he can say he stayed true to what he believed, and his overall record measures up to anyone else who has taken on what is arguably the biggest job in rugby. But the early momentum could not be maintained. England’s struggle for results and identity could no longer be tolerated

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  • 4 часа, 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    Roy Keane slams ‘DISRESPECTFUL’ Brazil for their dancing celebrations

    Roy Keane savaged Brazil’s free-scoring stars as ‘disrespectful’ as he likened their choreographed dance celebrations to watching Strictly Come Dancing.

    Brazil put on a show in the first half of their last-16 showdown with South Korea, hitting them for four thanks to goals from Vinicius Jnr, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta.

    Following Vinicius’ opener Brazil showed off a series of pre-planned dance routines to mark their goals, something that left Keane aghast come the half-time break.

    ‘Fantastic finish by Vinicius, great start to the game. But I’ve never seen so much dancing,’ fumed ITV pundit Keane

    ‘I can’t believe what I’m watching, I can’t believe what I’m watching, it’s like watching Strictly [Come Dancing].’

    Brazil continued to offer up a variety of moves as the goals flew in, with even manager Tite getting involved as he mimicked Richarlison’s pigeon celebration following the third goal.

    ‘I don’t like this. People say it’s their culture. But I think that’s really disrespecting the opposition,’ Keane furiously continued.

    ‘It’s four goals, and they are doing it every time.

    ‘I don’t mind so much the first jig, it’s the one after that, and the manager getting involved.

    ‘I’m not happy about it. I don’t think it’s good at all.’

    Graeme Souness backed Keane’s verdict and was equally as seething at the constant dancing after goals.

    ‘It’s only a matter of time before someone goes right through one of these Brazilians,’ the Scot said.

    Richarlison’s trademark ‘pigeon’ was one that seemed to cause particular annoyance given he raced over to the sideline and got his manager involved.

    The Tottenham striker’s moves originated from a pop group in Brazil called Os Perseguidores.

    It was when Richarlison moved to Everton from Watford in 2018 that he explained the reasons behind the dance.

    ‘The pigeon dance came from a group from Rio de Janeiro who had a song in around 2012,’ he explained at the time.

    ‘A trend was started when I did the dance at home. Everyone started copying me.’

    As annoyed as Keane and Souness were, Eni Aluko, alongside the grumpy pair on ITV’s punditry panel for the match, totally disagreed and said she ‘loved’ the enthusiasm in the Brazil celebrations.

    ‘I love it, it’s like we are at a Brazilian party,’ Aluko responded.

    ‘South Korea have made it easy for them. Look at this penalty, it’s personality, you can say they aren’t respecting South Korea but Neymar would have done that to most teams.’

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  • 4 часа, 29 минут назад 06.12.2022Sport
    Socceroos given a hero’s welcome as they land back in Australia following historic World Cup run

    A number of Socceroos players returned to Australia on Monday night after their exhilarating World Cup run came to an end against Argentina.

    Marco Tilio, Thomas Deng and Jamie Maclaren landed in Melbourne, while Garang Kuol, Mathew Ryan, Cameron Devlin, Jason Cummings and Andrew Redmayne arrived at Sydney Airport.

    The players were met by friends and families, posing for pictures and signing autographs for legions of fans at both airports.

    Australia were eliminated in the knockout stage on Sunday morning (AEDT) after losing 2-1 to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.

    Trailing by two goals with 15 minutes to go, the Socceroos were handed a lifeline when Enzo Fernandez deflected Craig Goodwin’s effort in his own net.

    They then came inches away from snatching a dramatic late equaliser through Kuol, only for Emiliano Martinez to produce a superb save to deny the 18-year-old.

    ‘We played against one of the best teams and the best players who have played the game,’ Maclaren said.

    ‘So we can hold our heads high and know that it’s the best finish that a Socceroos team has had at a World Cup and now, that’s the standard.’

    Deng struck a similar stone. ‘It was really amazing,’ he said.

    ‘It is a dream come true for me and for many others. This is our first World Cup for a lot of the young boys that are coming in.

    ‘It’s just something we are never going to forget.’

    Australia arrived in Qatar as ranked outsiders in Group D, but rebounded from a 4-1 drubbing against France in the opening game to reach the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006.

    The Socceroos won two games at the World Cup for the first time in their history and kept two clean sheets, after going without conceding just once in their five previous appearances at the tournament combined.

    And their performances in Qatar earned enormous public support back in Australia, with thousands of fans gathering to watch the action in Federation Square in Melbourne throughout the group stages.

    Public screenings were also set up in Sydney and Brisbane for the clash against Argentina, as Graham Arnold’s men looked to become the first Australia team to reach the quarter-finals.

    ‘We were looking back after games and it was crazy, all the scenes we were seeing around Australia,’ Tilio said.

    ‘I think that is the biggest thing that made us push to want more and, overall, we united the nation and that’s what we planned to do.’

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Sport SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England head coach Eddie Jones has RFU bigwigs in his pocket... it's ridiculous!