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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
England use 'mental skills' coach
Brian Ashton
Ashton hopes to continue using Peters after the World Cup
England coach Brian Ashton has recruited a "mental skills coach" to help his side's World Cup bid.

Dr Steve Peters has been working with England's players since last week at their Portugal training camp.

Ashton told Five Live: "Steve had the whole squad enthralled when he spoke to them for an hour and a half on Friday.

"He has now done one-on-ones with more than half the squad. Some of the players, even the most experienced ones, have been to see him twice."

Sir Clive Woodward took a huge backroom staff to the 2003 World Cup, including a visual awareness coach and video analyst, but he did not recruit a mental skills coach.

Dr Peters worked as a forensic psychiatrist before moving into sport to help British Cycling.

Lawrence Dallaglio
The bar is raised whenever Lawrence Dallaglio is around

Brian Ashton

His work there brought Peters to the attention of Ashton.

"Cycling is way ahead of other English sports in terms of winning medals," Ashton said.

"And after meeting Steve, I was pretty sure this guy would be of interest to the players and could help them.

"A lot of them want to continue their work with him. I've been very impressed with him and hope he can continue to work with us up to and even after the World Cup."

England began their preparations with a two-and-a-half day training course with the Royal Marines last week.

Ashton has hailed the camp as a huge success and has now seconded Marines instructor Dave Sylvester to his support staff until the end of the World Cup.


"It (the Marines camp) was excellent, better than I thought it would be and the Marine instructors were absolutely outstanding," Ashton said.

"They devised some really interesting tasks that put the players under physical and mental pressure.

"At the end of each day we had a debrief, going through the whole group of players.

"On the last day they gave me a report sheet on each player that they use on their courses.

There's no time for any of us to slip into any sort of comfort zone

Brian Ashton

"They gained remarkable knowledge of the players over the two-and-a-half days."

Ashton said the camp had helped him get closer to his final 30-man World Cup squad.

And he believes England's intensive preparations in the two months before the World Cup can allay some of the problems they have faced since winning the World Cup in 2003.

"Cramming everything into the last nine or 10 weeks might actually work to our advantage, rather than having it extended over three or four years," Ashton said.

"There's no time for any of us to drop into any sort of comfort zone. We might just surprise one or two people."

Ashton said veteran Lawrence Dallaglio, who was selected for the 47-man training squad after missing out on the Six Nations, had been key to England's preparations.

"He's made a very good impression, the impression I thought he would," Ashton said.

"He is a massive presence in the squad - people listen to him and look to him to lead. He also showed with the Marines that he's incredibly supportive when not in a leadership role.

"He's a knowledgeable player about the game and the bar's raised whenever he's around in all sorts of different ways. That can only be good news for us."

Dallaglio underwent a minor knee operation at the end of the season and is one of several players who have not taken a full part in training in Portugal.

Jason Robinson is also recovering from minor knee injury, while Josh Lewsey and Lewis Moody picked up Achilles tendon injuries before the camp, but should be fit by the time the squad returns to England.

Charlie Hodgson (knee), Andrew Sheridan (hamstring), Paul Sackey (knee) and Shane Geraghty (hamstring) are also continuing their rehabilitation, while Mike Tindall (leg) should join the squad when they reassemble in Bath next week.

Dan Ward-Smith, recovering from a dislocated kneecap and ruptured patella, has started to run in straight lines again.

Asked about the uncapped Bristol number eight's World Cup chances, Ashton said: "We will just have to wait and see."

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15 Jun 07 |  English
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