John Kirwan would relish England Six Nations chance


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The Independent Online

John Kirwan would be willing to manage England on an interim basis with the ultimate ambition of securing a role when the permanent coaching team is finalised.

The Rugby Football Union are looking to appoint a temporary successor to Martin Johnson with the brief of overseeing the RBS 6 Nations.

Brian Ashton and Stuart Lancaster are among the names linked with a role that would offer the RFU breathing space at a time of unprecedented upheaval at Twickenham.

While leading candidates Nick Mallett and Wayne Smith have ruled themselves out in the short term, Kirwan is happy to throw his hat into the ring.

The 46-year-old former Italy and Japan coach, speaking in promotion of Saturday's Heroes Rugby Challenge at Twickenham, believes a successful stint might yield greater rewards.

"If the phone rings I will say yes. It would really excite me," he said.

"I'm a head coach but also an attack coach and this England side excites me. I would be available on a short-term situation.

"England playing in the Six Nations? I'm a young coach so it doesn't get much more exciting than that.

"However, you need complete support from the RFU. They might say 'we want to employ an English coach in six months' time'.

"That's fine as long as that's made very clear and my job is to have progression, with the possibility of a role for me in the end.

"If someone said to me 'John, next week you've got Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Toby Flood at your disposal in the Six Nations', I'd say 'beautiful'."

One of the reasons behind Mallett's unwillingness to be considered until next year is the chaos that has engulfed Twickenham.

The structure of the RFU is under review and could be overhauled, with the biggest source of controversy being the existence of a director of elite rugby - Rob Andrew - who sits above the head coach in the management structure.

Kirwan, however, insists he would happily remain outside the power struggle as long as he is given everything needed to drive success on the field.

"I understand the situation the RFU is in at the moment, but I'm a little bit different to the other coaches," he said.

"Others like Nick and Wayne are saying no because of the structure above, but I'm at a different stage of my career.

"I'm a young coach, I enjoy risk, I love attack. Someone needs to get in there and sort the team out.

"If I'm not part of the future I'm prepared to do it as long as I'm set up to help these boys get back on the pitch and win football games.

"And then if there is a role because we have done well...

"England are not a complete failure - they won the Six Nations and played some great rugby.

"They have a great team and a great Premiership competition, but there are some structural issues that need to be sorted out."

Former Gloucester boss Dean Ryan, an outsider for the head coach's position, insists he has no confidence that the RFU will resolve the many internal issues that have made the English game a laughing stock.

"The events of the last six months have led to a lack of confidence in the governing body," he said.

"I'm not quite sure how they regain that confidence. They need to re-find that pretty quickly.

"They are in a state of flux, in a void at the moment and pretty quickly someone needs to restart building trust.

"How do we get confidence that decisions are not taken for a vested interest? That is an erosion of confidence.

"No-one could have spent the last six months in this country and not have had some of their faith eroded in the union.

"That has to change and someone has to lead that."

Kirwan and Ryan are coaching the Northern Hemisphere against the Southern Hemisphere in a match staged to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

Danny Grewcock, Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen, Andrew Mehrtens and Justin Marshall are among the players who will join servicemen and emerging academy talent at Twickenham.