- Graham Rowntree chats exclusively to RFU.com after new EPS is named
- Objective is fast, mobile pack that is the "whole package" for Forwards Coach
Photo: Getty Images
Assistant Coach Graham Rowntree believes England have selected a broad range of skills in the forwards, a group of players which can become the "complete package" as a pack.
There are seven new faces in the England forwards, plus the promotions from the Saxons of Dave Attwood and Geoff Parling due to injuries to Louis Deacon and Courtney Lawes.
Rowntree says his first objective is to establish a quick, mobile pack both at the set piece and in the loose, but the former England and British and Irish Lions prop also emphasised the importance of having flexibility in style.
In an exclusive chat with RFU.com, the 40-year-old said: "I want our forward pack to play quick, from set piece and at set piece. And around the field I want us to be in motion all the time, working hard and looking to keep the ball alive.
"But then there are certain times to keep the ball tight so there’s a lot of work there for me as a coach. I’ve got to coach smart as I’m covering a lot of bases but I want us to be the right, complete package and I think with the additions we’ve made to the squad we can afford to try and be the whole package."
Rowntree’s additions include uncapped Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Northampton Saints back row Calum Clark, a young pair who have impressed in the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup in the last 12 months.
The Forwards Coach says the main challenge for players new to the England environment is to improve consistency, but he is in no doubt of the enthusiasm and explosive play they can bring to the pitch.
Photo: Getty Images
"With a lot of the young forwards coming into our environment it’s their consistency that we need to work on,” he said. “And with Joe [Marler] it’s working on his set piece. It’s the same as young Alex Corbisiero, you’ve got to keep working on them and working on them but you can’t ignore their raw energy and explosiveness when they’re on the rugby field.
"Calum is energetic, physical, skilful, fit and now is the time to bring him in and see what he’s got. Calum covers a lot of positions, all three back row and he’s played in the second row recently as well. We’ve had our eye on him for a long time and I think he’s made massive strides forward since being at Northampton."
A pacy, fluid style of play is seemingly reliant on quick ball from the break down but Rowntree cautioned that fast recycling of the ball is not always under the complete control of the attacking team.
With particular reference to the challenge of facing Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations opener at Murrayfield on February 4, he added: "Quick ball doesn’t just happen, it often depends on who you are playing against as some teams will give you quicker ball than others teams.
"Scotland won’t, so our ball retention will be key, it’s going to have to be exemplary. That means the guy with the ball a) looking to get rid of it but b) if we have to take contact we must look after the ball and then it’s the arrival of players two and three doing a good job."