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Lancaster happy with England's image

ENGLAND boss Stuart Lancaster has rubbished suggestions the national team might have an image problem after suffering a second setback to his backroom plans.

Former New Zealand assistant boss Wayne Smith yesterday turned down the chance to join the coaching team Lancaster wants to build to carry the country to the 2015 World Cup.

Smith cited personal reasons for rejecting the offer from England and, coming soon after Andy Farrell opted to remain with Saracens, questions could be asked of the set-up under the new boss.

But Lancaster, now installed permanently after a promising Six Nations campaign, pointed out there was little to connect the decisions of Smith and Farrell.

He said: "I think every situation has its context, you can't take everything the same.

"The Wayne Smith situation was in a different context to Andy Farrell's.

"Wayne's situation is very much based on family reasons -- it is a big move to move your wife across the world.

"I think England is an attractive job -- look at the quality of candidates who applied the first time. It is finding the right fit."

Farrell worked with England during the Six Nations but decided against a permanent role to stay with the club who brought him to the game from rugby league.


Lancaster said: "I knew it was going to be a difficult one for him and I never assumed it was a certainty.

"I know the loyalty he felt to Saracens and how much they had supported him during his injury after he signed, and how much they clearly wanted him to stay.

"It is Andy's decision. We have got to respect that."

One solution could be Mike Catt, who yesterday left London Irish to take up a short-term coaching position with England for this summer's three-Test tour of South Africa.

Lancaster said: "Mike Catt has now got a fantastic opportunity to put down a marker in the same way I got a marker as interim coach."

Lancaster now intends to put coaching matters to one side before reviewing the situation after the South Africa tour. He will name his provisional squad for a trip that features five matches in total on May 10.