News24

Kirwan eyes England job

2011-11-30 19:59

London - New Zealand great John Kirwan is happy to step into the void created by Martin Johnson's resignation as England coach - even if it means operating within the existing Rugby Football Union (RFU) set-up.

With English rugby still reeling from Johnson's resignation, administrative infighting and a series of leaked and damning reports into a shambolic World Cup campaign in New Zealand, many might regard taking charge of England now as a poisoned chalice.

But not so 46-year-old former All Blacks wing Kirwan, a World Cup winner as a player back in 1987.

And Kirwan, who bowed out as Japan's coach at the World Cup after previously being in charge of Italy, would be prepared to take on the England post on a temporary basis, with the side set to begin the defence of their Six Nations title in February.

Although the likes of former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett and World Cup-winning New Zealand assistant boss Wayne Smith have expressed concerns about the RFU's structure, Kirwan has no such worries.

"I understand the situation the RFU is in at the moment, but I'm a little bit different to the other coaches," said Kirwan, in London to help with Saturday's Heroes Rugby Challenge in aid of injured armed forces personnel at Twickenham.

"Others like Nick (Mallett) and Wayne (Smith) 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 (in 2011) 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, who has also been linked with the England job, said the RFU had a big job on its hands to restore belief in its ability to run the game.

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

"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."

There have been suggestions Stuart Lancaster, currently coach of the reserve England Saxons, and England scrum coach Graham Rowntree form a caretaker England management duo.

Kirwan and Ryan are coaching the Northern Hemisphere against the Southern Hemisphere in this weekend's charity match.

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

AFP