"Special talent that will win 50 caps" - Sir Clive Woodward's five biggest underachievers - Ruck

“Special talent that will win 50 caps” – Sir Clive Woodward’s five biggest underachievers

Sir Clive Woodward ruled the roost at Twickenham for seven years between 1997 and 2004, forever etching his name into the history books when England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

While his tenure will always be remembered fondly as the time that the men in white became the most dominant club in world, won countless Six Nations trophies and had some of the best players in the world, Woodward also called up some duds during his time.

Here are the five biggest underachievers from the Woodward era as the players failed to match the significant hype that was bestowed upon them.

#1. Olly Barkley

  • Caps: 23
  • Position: Fly-half, Centre

The wonderkid won 23 caps for England between 2001 and 2008, and such was his early reputation that he Woodward gave him his England debut before his club bow with Bath. A graceful left-footer able to play at fly-half or inside-centre, Barkley should have been a mainstay in the England midfield after the retirement of Will Greenwood.

The strange thing about Barkley is that it is hard to say where it all went wrong. Although he was never blessed with great pace, the playmaker kicked well from the tee and out of hand, was a fine distributor and hardly a weak player in defence. He is possibly the biggest mystery of English rugby from the 2000s.

After retiring, he revealed that his heart wasn’t always in rugby as he always dreamed of playing football.

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