Saracens in talks with RFU after approach for Andy Farrell

 

England's 2012 RBS 6 Nations coaching team could be reunited in full-time roles during the next few days.

That prospect has moved a step closer following a brief Saracens statement today that "cordial and constructive discussions" have started between themselves and the Rugby Football Union.

Those talks will focus on current Saracens first team coach Andy Farrell, who was part of England's RBS coaching team alongside Stuart Lancaster and Graham Rowntree.

The Saracens statement read: "Saracens and the RFU today started cordial and constructive discussions on the subject of support staff for newly-appointed England coach Stuart Lancaster.

"The club will not provide a running commentary on this process and will make no further comment until the deliberations reach a conclusion."

The RFU yesterday upgraded Six Nations interim head coach Stuart Lancaster to a permanent role on a contract that will incorporate World Cup 2015 in England.

Forwards specialist Graham Rowntree, Press Association Sport understands, is set to follow Lancaster by landing a long-term deal.

And that then leaves the possible sticking point - backs and defence coach Farrell, the dual code rugby international who is Saracens' first team coach and under contract to them.

Lancaster, Rowntree and Farrell - despite being together for just eight weeks - masterminded a second-placed finish in this season's Six Nations.

England won four out of their five Tests, including claiming three away victories for the first time in one Six Nations campaign.

They also went within a converted try of holding eventual Six Nations and Grand Slam champions Wales.

Lancaster has said he knows the coaching team he wants to take England forward, with his next assignment being a three-Test tour of South Africa in June when England will face the Springboks in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth on successive weekends.

The appointment of Rowntree, who is already on the RFU payroll, is not expected to pose any problems.

But prising Farrell from Saracens may be a trickier proposition, with their chief executive Edward Griffiths insistent today that they do not want to lose him.

The fact that talks are under way, though, suggests Farrell could be on his way to England sooner, rather than later, especially if a satisfactory financial compensation deal can be thrashed out.

Griffiths, speaking before Saracens issued their statement, told BBC Radio Five Live: "The RFU asked if they could loan Andy Farrell for the Six Nations, which we did in the national interest.

"They made it very clear that it was just for the Six Nations.

"He is contracted to us for another two years and he is a massive part of what we're planning here as a club, and that's really the situation.

"We will doubtless talk to the RFU shortly and hear what they have got to say, but from a Saracens perspective Andy is a big part of our club and a big part of our future."

Saracens host Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins at Wembley tomorrow, when Griffiths can expect further media questioning about Farrell's situation.

Lancaster told Five Live that his thoughts and those of the RFU would now turn to finalising the coaching team.

But the former England Saxons coach is clearly keen for continuity as he looks towards a tour of South Africa, followed by autumn Test appointments with the Springboks, world champions New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.

"There has been an order of events and it has all happened for me very quickly in the sense that the final interview was last week and I was told (of his appointment) in the middle of this week," Lancaster said.

"For the RFU the priority was to get everything out of the way for me and then look at what I had put forward as my preferred coaching team.

"But clearly there is a right way to do these things. The right thing to do is to have the conversations privately, and that is what is going to happen over the course of the next few weeks and we will see how we go.

"From my point of view we had a great Six Nations and I would like to keep moving in that direction."

PA

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