Henry wants England job as Rowell's No 2 joins Worcester

Click to follow
The stated desire of the New Zealander Graham Henry to coach the England team brings the very real possibility that one of the biggest jobs in English sport could be taken out of native hands for the first time in its history.

Jack Rowell's wish to "finish the job" he started and take England through to the World Cup in 1999 is now looking unlikely to be granted.

"I've been discussing things with England and an opportunity to coach there, and hopefully their contract will involve the English XV," Henry, the coach of Super 12 champions, Auckland, said. "That's as far as it goes at this stage."

Les Cusworth, the England assistant coach, and Andy Keast, the technical coach to the Lions in South Africa, both took on new roles yesterday.

The appointment of Cusworth, who has just returned from England's one- off Test with Australia in Sydney, as the club's director of rugby is a major coup for Worcester, last season's Courage Division Four champions. Keast takes the same job title at Quins.

"We are starting to attract top-class players and you must get the best coach for them," Mike Robins, the Worcester chairman, said.

"He did not take much persuading to come here. The England job is part- time and, if the terms were right, I think he was looking to get involved in the game at club level. This role appealed to him."

Worcester will be happy to allow Cusworth to continue as Rowell's No 2. "He did say when we made the offer if we would be prepared to let him carry on with England and we were more than happy to say 'yes'," Robins said. "It would give great kudos to the club."

Worcester had also been in talks with the former England full-back Jonathan Callard for the post, but Bath refused to release him from his contract.

Keast steps up at Harlequins as the London club introduce a southern hemisphere-style coaching system. He coached Quins to third place in the league and to the Pilkington Cup semi-final last season.

He will be responsible for all coaching and playing matters at The Stoop, while contractual and financial arrangements will be left to the chief executive, Donald Kerr.

Keast's promotion comes as Quins attempt to "streamline" club business in the wake of Dick Best's sudden departure at the end of last season. Best, a former England coach, was sacked by Quins only two years into a 10-year rolling contract after discontent surfaced among the playing squad about training schedules.

"I hope I can fill the void left by Dick Best's departure," Keast said. "Dividing the squad management responsibilities in this way is designed to enable the director of rugby to concentrate his efforts on playing and coaching.

"Many clubs in the southern hemisphere have found such a system to be beneficial. It is important that we streamline the club to keep up with the modern game."

In another change, Malcolm Wall has succeeded Roger Looker as the Quins' chairman. The 40-year-old former Quins lock is the deputy director of United Broadcasting and Entertainment, which owns the ITV companies Anglia, Meridian and HTV.