Lancaster to coach England in Six Nations

 

England's new interim head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted his first
job will be to "get the culture right" in the wake of the World Cup
fiasco.

Lancaster will step up from his current dual role of England Saxons coach and head of player development to take charge until a permanent replacement for Martin Johnson is appointed.

Graham Rowntree is the only member of England's senior World Cup management team to be retained while Andy Farrell, the former dual international, has been seconded from Saracens.

There is no place in the England set-up for defence coach Mike Ford or forwards coach John Wells, who had worked with the national team since 2006.

Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith stood down after England's failed World Cup campaign, which was dogged by controversy and ended with a quarter-final defeat to France.

Leaked reports painted the picture of a dysfunctional squad, riven by a lack of trust with some players motivated more by money than rugby.

Lancaster, who had a watching brief with England during the World Cup, said: "With Graham Rowntree's experience of being out in New Zealand and my experience of being out in New Zealand and everything that has been said subsequently, we hope to learn those lessons.

"We want to get the culture right, we want to ensure we have a talented group of young players who are hungry for success, who are ambitious, who want to win things and it's our job as a coaching team to put that in place and to make sure that going forward we've got a foundation to build upon toward 2015."

Lancaster believes now is the time to give England's promising young stars a chance to shine, which suggests the likes of Mike Tindall and Nick Easter could struggle for a place in the squad.

In contrast, Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Farrell's son Owen could all be in line for a call-up.

"We have got a fantastic group of young players coming through. We have an opportunity to look at them and see how they get on on the international stage and I don't think we should shy away from that," Lancaster said in an interview on RFU.com.

Lancaster hopes a successful RBS 6 Nations campaign can provide the platform for the rebuilding of the national team in the run up to the 2015 World Cup.

"We have the talent clearly in this country," Lancaster added at a press conference. "We want to finish the Six Nations in a strong position, with a strong foundation building to 2015.

"We have 41 games between now and the next World Cup and we need to use those games wisely."

Reflecting on his appointment to the role, former Leeds director of rugby Lancaster added: "There is a sense of responsibility and a huge honour that we have to represent the England team. It's something as a player I always dreamed of and something as a coach I never dreamed of.

"To get the opportunity to sit here as the England head coach is an unbelievable opportunity and I'm very privileged to be here."

Lancaster outlined his plans for how he hopes to take the team forward in the wake of their disappointing World Cup campaign.

"It starts with players," he said. "It starts with talent and character. We want players who are hungry and ambitious, who want to go on and beat the best and be the best.

"We want players who have pride in the shirt. What we need to do is to make sure they recognise that and buy into that.

"We recognise the responsibility to get that team right, get the culture right, and get back on the right track."

Lancaster was quick to suggest he would be looking to lay the foundations for a new England side - potentially ominous news for some of the veterans left over from the World Cup.

"In terms of selection my first port of call is to the directors of rugby, having been one I know that no-one knows the players better than them," he said.

"We want to look at new players and give them a chance in the six nations, no doubt about it.

"When the time comes for the Elite Players Squad selection, for the seniors and the Saxons, we certainly want to give opportunities to some new players."

Farrell and Rowntree were both visibly enthused as they met the press.

Farrell, whose playing career in union never matched his exploits in league, paid tribute to Saracens for letting him take up the role.

"What a fantastic opportunity, there's excitement running through my veins. To be given a chance to coach my country in a fantastic competition like the Six Nations is great," he said.

"Without Saracens' backing this could not have been achievable. I thank them so much for this opportunity."

Rowntree, who emerged unscathed and even somewhat elevated after the leak of players' questionnaires from the World Cup, was equally passionate.

"I'm delighted to be involved," he said. "The World Cup is done, it's been covered and well documented. It's history.

"We're looking forward to a young group of players and a new coaching group. I'm privileged to be sat here today."

PA

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