ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster has suffered the first major blow of his fledging tenure after Saracens’ Andy Farrell rejected the opportunity to join his staff on a permanent basis.
Farrell, an integral part of the interim coaching team that steered England to second place in the Six Nations last month, insists he has unfinished business with the Premiership champions.
“We have made decent progress during this period but, in truth, as a club, we have barely scratched the surface of our potential,” he said. “The job isn’t anywhere near half done, and I have decided I want to help finish the job.”
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie remains confident this setback will not hamper rookie Lancaster’s mission to return England to the pinnacle of world rugby.
“We will continue to work hard with Stuart Lancaster to build a world class coaching team as we look towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015,” said Ritchie.
Farrell’s decision to stay loyal to Sarries leaves a gaping hole in the England set-up ahead of the three-Test tour to South Africa in June.
Favourite to fill the void is former New Zealand attack specialist Wayne Smith, currently with Super 15 side Waikato Chiefs, although his unavailability for the summer trip could prove a stumbling block.