- Rowntree and Farrell look forward to Lions challenge
- RBS 6 Nations campaign immediate priority for pair
England coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell have shared their reactions to being named in the British and Irish Lions coaching team for next year’s tour to Australia. The pair will commence their secondment in May, joining Head Coach Warren Gatland and Attack Coach Rob Howley.
Speaking after the announcement of their appointments, the pair talked of their pride and honour at the invitation to be part of the 2013 tour.
Forwards coach Rowntree said: “It’s a fantastic honour, these things only come about a couple of times in your career. It’s the pinnacle of a player’s career and I’m pretty sure it’s the pinnacle of a coach’s career as well.”
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Farrell, who will run the defence against the Wallabies, added: “I’m very proud and honoured to be asked, and to go on such a special tour is a dream come true really.
“You start getting excited when you think about the players you’re going to be coaching and the team of management that you’re going to be working with.”
Rowntree believes the selection is down to the efforts of the England team as a whole, which culminated with the historic win over New Zealand. The two time Lions tourist as a player said: “It’s a real testament to the players we’ve got.
“Certainly for me, as a forwards coach, to be saying to the lads, ‘Look, we play like that again, we have to play like that again going forward, and if we do, then there’s a lot of you guys going to be putting your hands up for Lions selection.’ It’s the ultimate carrot for them to aim for.”
Former Great Britain Rugby League captain Farrell echoed his sentiments, also noting the possibility of a strong English element in the travelling contingent: “For me and Graham to be on this tour and for hopefully a good handful of players to be there as well is going to be a good testament to what we’ve got going here at England and the environment that we’ve all created.”
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England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster also welcomed the news as a strong endorsement of Rowntree and Farrell’s work with England.
He said: “I am delighted for Andy and Graham. They have worked hard to achieve this honour and it is a credit to them, the England team and the RFU that they have been asked to coach the best players from the Home Unions.”
For the moment, though, the pair are focused only on the upcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign and the challenges and opportunities it will bring for the coaches and players. Rowntree said: “We certainly won’t take our eye off the ball. Our first job is being coaches for the England team, but I’m hoping especially on the back of the New Zealand game, there’ll be a lot of England players on the tour.”
Farrell added: “There’s a long period before the tour takes place, there’s a lot of business to be taken care of before then, so watch this space.”
England embark on a two Test, four game tour to Argentina in June during Rowntree and Farrell’s secondment, with the coaching and support team for that series to be announced in due course.
Lancaster said: "We will confirm the coaching and support teams for the Barbarians match and the tour to Argentina over the coming months but in the meantime we are all fully focused on preparing for the Scotland match on February 2."
England fans can follow the British & Irish Lions to Australia with official ticket-inclusive travel packages organised by the official Lions travel company. To find out more visit www.lionstour.com/englandrugbytravel or call 0844 788 4075.