England Rugby
Rowntree re-lives World Cup review pain
ESPNscrum Staff
December 10, 2011
England assistant coach Graham Rowntree, England press conference, Twickenham, England, December 8, 2011
Graham Rowntree will serve as an assistant to interim head coach Stuart Lancaster during the 2012 Six Nations © Getty Images

England assistant coach Graham Rowntree has offered an insight into the "dark times" he has experienced in the wake of a troubled Rugby World Cup campaign.

Rowntree was the only coach to survive the post-mortem into England's disastrous World Cup assault that was blighted by scandals both on and off the pitch. Manager Martin Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith opted to step down while forwards coach John Wells and defence specialist Mike Ford were notable omissions from the interim coaching team, set to be led by Stuart Lancaster, that will guide England into the 2012 Six Nations.

Reflecting on the in-depth review into England's performance at the tournament, Rowntree told The Guardian of the "almost unbearable" anguish he felt after players' supposedly confidential feedback were leaked to the media and fears about his own position.

"Every day I wondered what the future held," said Rowntree. "What the next job was, whether I still had my current job, the whole uncertainty has almost been unbearable. There have been dark times. It was painful the way everything was packaged up on and off the field."

Rowntree, who has worked with England since 2007 and also worked with the British & Irish Lions in 2009, was arguably the only coach to emerge from the review process with credit and has set his mind to restoring the team's battered reputation alongside Lancaster and fellow assistant Andy Farrell.

"What we have got as a nation is a lot of good young players," he said. "The next job is to pick two squads to reflect that. We have got to get them together, get them excited and get them proud to be playing for England again.

"Now it's about moving forward. This is our coaching group … let's get on with it. There will be no hangover from me or any of the other coaches. We will start selecting, getting around, speaking to coaches and directors of rugby and asking them what they think of certain players. Then we will plan our January camp and make an environment where they are going to come in and say, 'Wow'. It'll be nothing flash but it will be an environment in which they can enjoy themselves, play a good brand of rugby and express themselves."

England are scheduled to announce a revised senior elite player squad on January 11 ahead of their opening Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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