- Stuart Lancaster discusses preparations for SA and his coaching team
- Rowntree has become the complete forwards coach – Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster believes the spirit, solidarity and selflessness he has established among the England players will see them arrive in the best possible physical condition to take on the daunting task of a June tour to South Africa.
The players are now back at their clubs and will not train with England until May before the three-Test tour to a country where they have only won twice and suffered a 2-0 series loss by an aggregate of 113-32 on their last visit in 2007.
One of the guest speakers who addressed the squad at the pre-RBS 6 Nations training camp, Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield, said 'you find out the difference between good players and great players when the curtains are drawn and nobody is around', and the Interim Head Coach says that resonated with the group.
Lancaster said: "The players understand that we are going on a tremendous journey into the unknown in South Africa and although we don’t know how the coaching situation will unfold, the reality is the majority of the players who played in the Six Nations will go.
"In order to do that you can’t go half-hearted into it, you’ve got to go in full-bore. You’ve got to be fit, in good condition and motivated and that motivation to train when you come to the end of a long hard season is driven by your desire to play well for your country – and I’m confident we have that it place now."
Regardless of the outcome of the permanent Head Coach position, Lancaster is an advocate of naming the touring party early, around May 5, to allow the selected players the time to prepare both physically and mentally. And as England Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree explained last wek, the enthused players are eager for a swift return to international duty.
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Credibility, chemistry and technical ability
In the second part of his Six Nations review with RFUtv, the 42-year-old continued to discuss the impact his coaching lieutenants – Rowntree and Backs Coach Andy Farrell – had on England’s success in winning four from five and claiming three away victories for the first time in history.
Lancaster said the pair have displayed their credibility and technical ability, and added that the relationship they’ve established on and off the field is the "best and most enjoyable" he’s experienced.
Lancaster said: "The balance between the two of them, the chemistry, they’re both quite outgoing and they enjoy a crack and a laugh but at the same time they can crack the whip. Between the three of us we’re all slightly different but we’ve brought the best out of each other.
"Graham had served his time as an Assistant Forwards Coach and this was his time to step up to be full time. He didn’t sit around, he got out, researched, spoke to the lineout forwards and developed that side of his game so he became the complete forwards coach."
Photo: Getty Images
While England’s complete superiority over an experienced Ireland pack in the 30-9 victory is the lingering memory of the Six Nations, defence was also a major plus point – conceding just four tries – and Lancaster says much of the credit for this must go to former rugby league star Farrell.
"It’s a different role to what he coaches at Saracens but he thrived on it," he added. "He’s very enthusiastic and passionate about it [defence], very detailed, and that coaching transferred through to the players.
"They desperately wanted to defend the line, they wanted to work hard for each other, they wanted to kick chase and pressure, they wanted to dominate the opposition and that was all driven through Andy."
Stuart Lancaster’s RBS 6 Nations review part I and Graham Rowntree’s review part I and part II are also available now on RFU.com.