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Lancaster's focus only on Irish despite 'dream job' distraction

Stuart Lancaster showed no signs yesterday of wanting to relinquish what he termed "the dream job," despite the fact that tomorrow's Six Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham might be the last occasion on which he prepares the senior England team.

As he announced just two changes to the match-day squad, Lancaster said that it was only when he popped home to Leeds on Tuesday night so that he could do the school run the following morning that he became aware of the clamour that is gathering around his candidature for the role of permanent head coach. There's no doubt that he is the people's choice, but the decision, which is not likely for another 10 days or so, resides with new RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.

"I'll probably not appreciate it all until it's finished, whenever that might be," said Lancaster, who has drafted fit-again wing David Strettle and summoned Bath hooker Lee Mears to the bench for the injured Rob Webber.

Lancaster intends to show the side a motivational video of their best clips from the championship as a means of getting them in the right frame of mind to take on opposition he believes could easily have been in with a shout of a Grand Slam themselves.

Lancaster ought to include a few shots of him laying the spiritual foundations for an England side that has surpassed expectations with three away wins in the tournament. As it is, he insists that he has not had time to focus on his application for the job or the drawn-out interview process.

He revealed that he has had no discussions with his assistant Andy Farrell as to what the future might hold for the pair of them.

Ireland are the only thing on his mind, rightly so given that they have won seven out of the last eight championship matches against England. Lancaster was adamant that there is no sense that the team feels it has already met its objectives for this tournament.

"What, job done?" said Lancaster. "I can assure you that's not the case. You could tell from the body language and demeanour on Thursday that they'll be giving their all on Saturday. They want to finish well. We've got to be tough on ourselves for this weekend."

Meanwhile, England full-back Ben Foden says becoming a father for the first time this week will inspire him "to do something special" against Ireland.

Foden returned to the England camp on Wednesday night in buoyant mood after his Irish fiancee Una gave birth to a baby girl called Aoife on Tuesday.

"I am looking for a bit of extra motivation to do something special for Aoife," said Foden. "One of the things Una said to me when we were going into the hospital was to make sure I got back there to play at the weekend because you only have a certain amount of time in your life to perform at these heights," Foden added.

"Aoife is brand new on the scene and, obviously, I want to spend as much time with her and her mum, but when she grows up I want to be able to tell her that when she was born I went on to play in a great match against Ireland and she was my inspiration."

And will Aoife be supporting England or Ireland? "Definitely England, she is a daddy's girl," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

England -- B Foden; C Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, B Barritt, D Strettle; O Farrell, L Dickson; B Morgan, C Robshaw, T Croft; G Parling, M Botha; D Cole, D Hartley, A Corbisiero. Reps: L Mears, M Stevens, T Palmer, P Dowson, B Youngs, C Hodgson, M Brown.

Irish Independent