Lancaster gets player backing to keep England job

ENGLAND prop Alex Corbisiero has given the interim coaching set-up a ringing endorsement as the Rugby Football Union reconvenes to decide whether head coach Stuart Lancaster should keep the job.

Saturday’s convincing 30-9 defeat of Ireland at Twickenham ensured England ended the Six Nations with four wins from a possible five, their only defeat coming against Grand Slam champions Wales.

It provided further ammunition for those who believe Lancaster’s quiet, methodical stewardship deserves to be extended, despite the presence of more high-profile candidates, such as ex-South Africa coach Nick Mallett.

And Corbisiero, who also heaped praise on scrum coach Graham Rowntree, has left the RFU in no doubt that Lancaster and his assistants have proved popular caretakers during a positive championship.

“I have nothing but great words to say for Graham Rowntree. It is not my decision, but we have all been very impressed with him. He is a guy that commands respect and players want to play for him – you can see that in the whole team,” said Corbisiero. “You can see that with Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell. We have a good environment, we play for each other and we play for the coaches. Whatever happens, happens, but there are a lot of positives where we are at the moment.”

The RFU’s four-man advisory panel, which includes operations director Rob Andrew, Saracens coach and former England player Richard Hill, Harlequins boss Conor O’Shea and ex-Lions chief Sir Ian McGeechan, is expected to formally interview candidates on Thursday and Friday.

Mallett, whose four-year stint as Italy coach ended after last year’s World Cup, is the international big-hitter some believe England need, having enjoyed notable success with the Springboks and Stade Francais.

However, the English-born South African appeared to accept underdog status following Saturday’s action, saying: “You can’t see the RFU wanting to change a coach when you look at the team and how happy they are.”

Lancaster has remained modest despite turning around England’s fortunes. Asked about keeping the job, he said: “That’s for others to decide, but if you said to me I’d be walking around Twickenham applauding 82,000 people with a group of lads I respect and a management group I respect I would have taken it.”