London - Graham Henry, New Zealand's Rugby World Cup-winning coach, has warned
England's interim coach, Stuart Lancaster, that his zero tolerance
approach to ill discipline in his squad will end in failure.
Delon Armitage became the latest player to fall foul of
Lancaster's crackdown, when the London Irish full-back was expelled from
the England Saxons squad on Monday following his arrest for alleged
assault in a Torquay nightclub in the early hours of Sunday.
Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, who had been expected
to rival his Leicester counterpart Ben Youngs for a place in the England
starting line-up to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, was also
dropped from the senior elite squad last month following his arrest for
drink driving on New Year's Day.
Henry, however, believes that Lancaster is misguided in
his iron-fisted attempts to eradicate the off-field controversies that
blighted England's World Cup campaign.
"If the three [England] coaches try to stamp their
authority on the squad, as it seems they have with the axing of Danny
Care and Delon Armitage, then they will fail," said Henry, writing for
therugbysite.com. "Kids don't listen if you tell them what to do, you
have to bring them with you, include them in the process.
"Our strategy would have been to assemble Team Care. Call
it a duty of 'Care' if you like. We would have given him all the
support that we could make available. The approach would have been the
same with Armitage.
"Unfortunately England's new management seem to have drawn an immediate line. They have adopted a zero tolerance attitude.
"It just doesn't work with today's generation. Look how
many chances Sir Alex Ferguson gives his young players and he rarely
disciplines them too publicly."
Henry, 65, added: "I understand Lancaster's need for
discipline, and he knows the kids, but I just hope he hasn't been too
authoritarian, too soon. If there is too much big stick, then today's
kids will eventually rebel against you.
"Lancaster says: 'The message will get through.' I am not
sure that it will in this day and age. It all looks a bit too like
naming and shaming for my liking."