Stuart Lancaster ready to step up to England plate
Stuart Lancaster is convinced he is the man to lead England into the 2015 World Cup following a stellar Six Nations campaign.
Lancaster is expected to be interviewed for the permanent position this week having led a new-look England team to second place in the championship – a remarkable turnaround from last year’s World Cup disaster where they crashed out of the tournament in the last eight.
World Cup-winning boss Jake White has already bowed out of contention and Nick Mallett, thought to be another leading candidate, has conceded it will be hard for the Rugby Football Union to appoint anyone but the former Leeds flanker. And Lancaster, who took the reins on a temporary basis when Martin Johnson stood down last year, is confident he can continue to improve the side as they build towards the next showpiece on home soil in three years’ time.
“I think there is more to come,” said Lancaster, who capped nine new players during the Six Nations. “There’s a pipeline of talented players who sit beneath this whom I’ve worked with.
“We’ve got 37 games between now and the next World Cup and we have got to make sure we use them effectively.”
The 42-year-old’s appointment is far from guaranteed, though, with RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie insisting all along that results alone would not dictate whether he gets the job. It was believed the England bigwigs had targeted a more high-profile coach to take over for the side’s upcoming tour to South Africa and beyond and reportedly contacted Mallett in December. But following a Six Nations championship which saw England lose just one Test to eventual champions Wales, Lancaster is adamant he has proved himself as the best man for the job.
He said: “Part of the dynamic of international coaching is to get the best out of people and to build a team and culture that people buy into.
“If you look at our performances, I think we’ve done that.”
Meanwhile, despite appearing to concede the role to his inexperienced rival, it has been reported that former South Africa coach Mallett remains a leading contender. Following England’s impressive 30-9 victory over Ireland last week Mallett said: “You can’t see the RFU wanting to change a coach when you look at the team and how happy they are.”
However, reports suggest he has no intention of withdrawing his bid and will leave it to the RFU to decide between the two front-runners for the post.