Lancaster: I may rotate captaincy

ENGLAND interim coach Stuart Lancaster has confirmed his intention to apply for the job on a permanent basis, but admits there is less certainty over who will captain the team during the Six Nations.

Lancaster, who was handed the reins following the resignation of Martin Johnson in November, faces illustrious competition for the task of leading England into a home World Cup in four years’ time.

He has less than three weeks to formally submit his CV to City headhunters Odgers Berndtson, who have been hired by the Rugby Football Union to carry out the search, but insists he will definitely apply.

“The job has been advertised. It’s a good job and I am sure there will be a lot of interest worldwide and in England,” said Lancaster.

“My hat will be in the ring. I love working with teams and trying to help players improve. The opportunity to do that at the highest level with England is fantastic. I haven’t applied yet but I will be before the 15th.”

Former Italy coach Nick Mallett, Northampton boss Jim Mallinder and ex-New Zealand chief Wayne Smith are among those tipped to be shortlisted for the job.

Lancaster’s immediate priority is the Six Nations defence, which begins next week, and he admits the captaincy issue remains undecided.

Flanker Tom Wood’s appearance as nominal skipper at yesterday’s tournament launch suggests he is the preferred choice, but his current injury means Harlequins’ Chris Robshaw is likely to deputise for two Tests.

Yet Lancaster hinted that whoever skippers the team in their opening match against Scotland on 4 February could be the first of many to don the armband in the coming weeks.

“There is a spread of players we need to work with and from there a leader will emerge that will represent England as captain against Scotland,” added the 42-year-old, who cited Dylan Hartley and Ben Youngs.

“Will we appoint for the Six Nations and through to South Africa and beyond? I don’t think you can do that. I don’t think selection or injury allows you to do that. It is not a bad thing to have two or three people who can captain the side.”