Lancaster to restore respect

2011-12-09 12:14

London - England caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster has promised to restore respect for the Red Rose as the team look to bounce back from a miserable Rugby World Cup in New Zealand during the Six Nations.

Lancaster, formerly coach of England's reserve team Saxons, was appointed on Thursday to fill in during the Six Nations as the Rugby Football Union continue their search for a permanent successor to Martin Johnson.

Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup winning captain, resigned after the squad returned home from New Zealand having failed to reach their minimum goal of a semi-final spot - they lost in the last eight to France.

Lacklustre performances on the pitch were compounded by a series of embarrassing off-field incidents, including a drinking spree involving several players, notably veteran centre Mike Tindall.

A series of leaked reports into England's World Cup campaign painted a portrait of a disunited squad where ill-disciplined players were led by a management that was unable to crack down on the worst excesses and, in some cases, lacked the required rugby skills too.

Lancaster, a former school teacher, has been joined by Graham Rowntree - one of the few members of England's backroom staff to emerge with credit from the World Cup - and Andy Farrell for the defence of England's Six Nations title which starts away to Scotland in February.

Lancaster, promoted from within after All Black great and former Italy and Japan coach John Kirwan put himself forward for the caretaker post, said: "Environment shapes behaviour.

"If we give a strong enough reason to the players about why it's important to be responsible and be respectful of the rose and what the rose represents then everything falls into line behind that," added Lancaster.

Lancaster is due to name his 32-man elite squad on January 11 and, looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup in England, could include young talents such as back-row Chris Robshaw, who has led Premiership leaders Harlequins to 14 successive wins so far this season.

Conversely, he may be about to call time on the Test careers of Tindall and fellow 2003 World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, although both men have 'survived' several previous England regime changes

"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," said Lancaster.

The former Leeds captain and coach 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."