Rugby World Cup 2011: Cohen concern at 'rock star' era

World Cup winner Ben Cohen believes England manager Martin Johnson is struggling to deal with the "rock star" generation of players in his side.

Johnson was forced to defend a group of his players when they were pictured drinking after beating Argentina.

And Cohen, who won 57 caps, told BBC Look East: "The professional players these days are a completely new breed.

"That's what he's finding hard now - people want to be rock stars, everybody wants to be like a David Beckham."

Johnson also received criticism for allowing the team to go bungee jumping and former Northampton Saints winger Cohen, who won the World Cup in 2003 and retired from professional rugby in May at the age of 32, says the modern system of players going straight from school into academies means they "have everything on a plate".

He added: "They are in the public eye and see what that can bring them - fame and fortune.

"This isn't the case for everyone but, in general, the modern-day rugby player wants to be pictured in magazines and the paper.

"They don't really understand the concept of 'get it right on the pitch and everything else will follow'."

Cohen concedes that players need "to let their hair down" and that their behaviour can be "blown out of proportion" by media coverage, but says high-profile players like Mike Tindall need to recognise that "being in the public eye comes with a responsibility".

"It's not always about going to a very busy bar and getting drunk," he said. "That responsibility falls on him [Tindall] and on the England side."

England face Scotland on Saturday knowing a losing bonus point will see them through in Group B, while a win would eliminate their opponents.

And Cohen is keeping an eye on his Saints and England successor Chris Ashton, who has scored five tries already in the competition.

He added: "I think Chris Ashton is a fantastic player and his work-rate off the ball is superb.

"Do I think he's the best winger in the world at the moment? No. Do I think he's becoming the best winger in the world? Yes.

"He has still got to be doing it in the big games away from home but, ultimately, your team has got to give you space to do that.

"It's a big game for England and one they should win. It's going to be a patriotic game with real good tension and [Scotland boss] Andy Robinson will get the Scottish lads up for it."

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