Noon: I want side to win without me

JAMIE Noon’s World Cup ended prematurely but the Newcastle Falcons centre is just relieved England’s has not ended the same way as they prepare for their semi-final against France.

Jamie Noon’s World Cup ended prematurely but the Newcastle Falcons centre is just relieved England’s has not ended the same way as they prepare for their semi-final against France.

WITH muscles still pumped, forehead dripping and training top soaked in sweat, Jamie Noon just about managed to evade a club fine for lateness yesterday after a gym session overran ahead of his meeting with the media.

It is a narrow escape at a club which prides itself on professionalism and, in this case, punctuality, but Noon deserves to receive a bit of slack after the tragic knee injury which brought his World Cup campaign to a premature end.

Like every rugby player within a sniff of the national team, Noon had spent months preparing himself, physically and mentally, for England’s World Cup campaign. Having missed out on the entire Six Nation’s Championship last season, the 28-year-old was thrilled to make the cut for France, but that joy was instantly crushed the moment he was caught under a pile of bodies during England’s humiliating 36-0 group defeat to South Africa.

“I actually thought it was a lot worse than it was, I thought the whole knee had snapped, but thankfully it was only my medial ligament so I’ve got to be thankful for that,” said Noon, who admitted that being able to return for his daughter’s first birthday had eased some of the pain he felt at leaving the rest of the squad.

“I knew straight away my World Cup was over. My reaction was partly pain and partly frustration. I’d felt it pop and I knew my tournament had come to an end. It was very annoying and very frustrating because the game was virtually over, but it would have been difficult to take whenever it had happened in the game.”

Noon though, retains a sense of humour despite the cruel hand dealt him as he added: “I’m upset because I never got the opportunity to show what I could do, I hardly saw any of the ball when I played and the team have only started to open up and throw the ball around since I was injured, which I hope is just a coincidence.

“I felt going into the tournament I was going well, I was confident with my form and I felt this tournament would be the chance to show what I’m capable of. I’d established myself in that centre role. When I wasn’t involved in the Six Nations, all I did was wonder whether I’d go. I’d always wanted to play in a World Cup and to go there with a chance of being in the starting side was very special. To come away prematurely was massively disappointing.”

When Noon suffered his tragic injury, few expected England to stay in France long after him following that humbling defeat at the hands of the South Africans. But after their magnificent quarter-final win over Australia, England have suddenly turned from national disgrace to genuine World contenders to retain the title of World Champions they earned four years ago. For Noon, there was only criticism and pressure as England’s critics stuck the proverbial boot into the under-performing team, but since he left, the mood and atmosphere has utterly changed.

Yet as much as his personal disappointment frustrates him, there is no trace of bitterness in his voice as he urges his England colleagues to beat France in tonight’s semi-final and set up a potential revenge mission against the South Africans in the final.

“We were a great team on and off the field in terms of bonding so I don’t sit there and think I wish they were not doing this without me,” said Noon, who hopes to be back playing for the Falcons in two to three weeks. “I’m English so I want England to do well. It would have been my dream to play in a semi-final and if I’d been fit I’d have been involved, but I’d love them to beat France and win the World Cup.

“There was an element of surprise outside of the England camp with the Australia performance but, having been inside the squad, it had been building. We were poor in the first couple of games, but that doesn’t matter anymore. I really think they will do well. They’ve got some momentum now, they’ve won their last three games and they’ve beaten a top side like Australia to reach the semi-final.

“I do believe it’s a semi-final they can win and they will throw everything into that. The areas of the game we were lacking, an element of confrontation, physicality and sharpness, we had against Australia. We had a lot of possession and stopped Australia from playing. I think, if we do that this weekend, we can beat France.”

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