England Rugby
Cohen questions Lancaster appointment
ESPN Staff
May 19, 2012
Sale's Ben Cohen bursts past Rob Sidoli, Sale Sharks v Newport Gwent Dragons, Anglo-Welsh Cup, Edgeley Park, Stockport, England, January 28, 2011
Ben Cohen does not support the decision to appoint Stuart Lancaster as England coach © Getty Images
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Former England international Ben Cohen believes the current national team coaching staff, led by Stuart Lancaster, lack the requisite experience to succeed at international level.

Lancaster, 42, took over the top job - initially on an interim basis - prior to the Six Nations this year. Cohen, though, has expressed his concerns over Lancaster and his assistant coaches Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree ahead of England's upcoming tour of South Africa.

"Stuart Lancaster came in and did a good job," Cohen told Sportal. "But do I think he should have got the main job? No.

"I think he should have been in and around the squad and have someone with real international experience over a number of years at the top - someone like a Nick Mallett or a Wayne Smith.

"There's not many people in this world who have the opportunity to 'try before you buy'. They tried him out, he had an opportunity and he was in no-lose situation - he had to drop all the players and bring in new ones.

"He had a new coaching staff who all had a buzz about them. It was a real honeymoon period. I'm not doing him a disservice - he came in and did a fantastic job and everyone speaks very highly of him.

"Mike Catt has a chance now and Graham Rowntree is in there as well, but there's no-one with any real experience."

At Northampton, Cohen played under Smith and says the New Zealander's decision to turn down the opportunity to join Lancaster's staff because of family reasons is troubling.

"You have to be a bit wary of the fact that Wayne Smith didn't want to take that opportunity on. I know Wayne very well and I know he wanted to be at home but I can see why Stuart went after him straight away.

"That is the bit that concerns me - how do you manage the transition? How do you make good international players great? How do you make great internationals stay international players?

"In the Six Nations you didn't see England play an amazing brand of rugby. I know it's about winning - I don't have a problem with that - but you need to look at their systems and what styles of rugby they're playing because there wasn't a lot of structures there.

"I know he only had a few games to do that and he got them winning and he can build on that, but they haven't really got that experience in the backroom staff to really make a difference to these players and bring them on."

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