England Rugby
Lancaster respect for Rhinos
ESPNscrum Staff
January 15, 2012
England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster, England media briefing, Loughborough, England, January 4, 2012
Interim England boss Stuart Lancaster has a healthy respect for Leeds Rhinos' winning culture © Getty Images

England boss Stuart Lancaster has revealed that the Leeds Rhino rugby league side have had a major impact on his approach to the game - both on and off the field.

Lancaster, who is set to lead England into the Six Nations having taken temporary charge last month, spent the best part of a decade as a player with the Rhinos' rugby union neighbours Leeds Carnegie before steering the side back into the top flight as head of their academy and then as director of rugby. He would later switch to a development role for the Rugby Football Union but not before noting the Rhinos' recipe for success.

"During my journey I spent five years at the Leeds rugby academy which was next to the Rhinos all the time," Lancaster explained to The Observer. "They have won the grand final in six of the last eight years and you cannot fail but to be impressed with what they did culturally."

Lancaster, whose side kick off their Six Nations defence against Scotland on February 4, was equally impressed with the way they played the game but insists England are not about to become a league side under his tenure. "We are not going to become a rugby league side, but I like the way they attack, the quality of their lines and handling, the passing and the questions they ask defences. There is a lot of working-class humility that comes with the game."

The 42-year-old Lancaster also intends to use the pain of England's dismal showing at the Rugby World Cup to fire their defence of the northern hemisphere crown. "You can have numerous financial trappings that are associated with being a rugby player but they do not last forever," Lancaster said. "Memories do and ultimately you want to fill your head with great experiences. The World Cup hurt the players and I will need to use that as a vehicle to motivate them."

A fresh-faced squad was named for the Six Nations with the intent of putting the building blocks in place for the 2015 World Cup with a more immediate goal being a rise in the International Rugby Board's world rankings. The top four sides in the rankings at the end of this year will be kept apart in the tournament draw that is scheduled for November but Lancaster is aiming higher.

"If we constantly have a 'win the next game' mentality, we will never achieve long-term success," he said. "If you are going to win the World Cup, you have got to have the foundations and culture in place. The objective for us is to move ourselves to a point where we are rising in the world rankings so we are first or second in 2013. We cannot get distracted by seeding.

"My philosophy is look after yourself. If we began the camp with an analysis of Scotland and what they are going to do, we will not be ready. It has got to be about us and what we are going to do. Nearer the time we will reference Scotland but our mind-set is to get our bit right and let them worry about us."

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