Friday 28 October 2016

Stuart Lancaster hits out at critics after joining Leinster's coaching team

Published 05/09/2016 | 10:11

Former England boss Stuart Lancaster has taken a coaching role with Leinster
Former England boss Stuart Lancaster has taken a coaching role with Leinster

Stuart Lancaster has hit out at the perception that he did not do much hands-on coaching in his four years as England boss.

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The 46-year-old has joined Leinster as a member of their coaching team for the rest of the season, his first extended role since stepping down as England chief in November 2015 in the wake of his team's dismal World Cup campaign.

Leinster's new senior coach, who will work under head coach Leo Cullen, has filled various short-term roles this summer for British Cycling, the Football Association, Atlanta Falcons and in New Zealand domestic rugby.

Lancaster is remembered as the England head coach who for four straight seasons was a Six Nations runner-up and then became the first to fail to steer a World Cup host nation out of the pool stage.

Soon to follow Lancaster out of the exit door, once Eddie Jones succeeded him, were high-profile coaches Andy Farrell, Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree, who are believed to have carried out most of England's training sessions.

Former Leeds Tykes flanker Lancaster, whose primary responsibility at Leinster is to coach defence, said: "I've coached virtually every part of the game, whether I go back to my teaching career 'til I was 30, but I've coached now for 16 years.

"I think there was a perception in England that I probably didn't do any coaching.

"Andy Farrell clearly led on the defence when I was with England (but) I was coaching defence not less that three weeks ago in New Zealand.

"(At) Counties Manukau my main remit was to coach defence. So I've got my own philosophy. Clearly it's been influenced by the people I've worked under as defence coaches.

"I watched Mike Ford when he was England defence coach, obviously Andy Farrell latterly, I worked with Paul Gustard in Argentina when he came with me.

"I think I understand a lot about defence but equally as I mentioned earlier on, I've got a reasonably broad range and hopefully I can influence the attacking stuff as well and also reach down a bit to some of the academy work.

"I come from a player development background, my role in England was not just head coach, (I was) head of elite player development, and I like to think I can offer Leinster something in that regard as well."

Lancaster's opportunity to join the three-time European Cup winners, last term's Guinness PRO12 runners-up, came after former defence coach Kurt McQuilkin returned to New Zealand for family reasons.

Although Lancaster's main remit is defence, it is instructive that his title is 'senior coach' and not 'defence coach'.

Cullen believes he has signed an all-rounder.

"I always follow people that I admire in the game, good people," said the former Ireland and Leinster lock.

"I want to bring a good person into the group first and foremost, people that have a quality skill set that can add to the group, not just from a defensive point of view but in a whole host of other areas.

"Straight away there's a big attraction there for having a candidate like Stuart here so I'm absolutely delighted that he's decided to join here."

Although Lancaster has coached at a higher level than Cullen, he said: "I'm more than happy to work underneath Leo because I don't know the club, I don't know the environment, I don't know the relationships and everything.

"It suits me down to the ground just to get back into coaching again."

Among those to give their approval was former fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who made his last international appearance just before Lancaster succeeded Martin Johnson as England coach.

Wilkinson tweeted: "Congratulations to a great guy. Congratulations to Leinster Rugby for such a good signing".

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