England Rugby
Lancaster defends Smith decision
ESPNscrum Staff
May 2, 2012
Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, faces the media at a conference held at Loughborough University, May 1, 2012
Stuart Lancaster will continue his search for Andy Farrell's replacement after the tour of South Africa © Getty Images

England boss Stuart Lancaster has rubbished suggestions the national team have an image problem after Wayne Smith turned down the chance to join his coaching team.

Smith, the World-Cup winning former New Zealand assistant coach, cited personal reasons for rejecting the offer from England. However, following immediately after Andy Farrell's decision to remain with Saracens, questions could be asked of the set-up under Lancaster, but the England coach insists there is no problem.

"I think every situation has its context, you can't take everything the same," Lancaster said. "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. Whilst the attractiveness of doing the role made it a difficult decision - hopefully I painted a good vision - unfortunately it was not enough to outweigh the family reasons.

"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.

"I knew it was going to be a difficult one for him and I never assumed it was a certainty," said Lancaster. "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. When a player is injured you look for what the solution is - that is my mindset here."

One solution could be Mike Catt, who left London Irish on Monday to take up a short-term coaching position with England for this summer's tour of South Africa. Lancaster wanted to bring in Catt's input for the three-Test series in June and the former England back now has the chance to stake a claim for a long-term position.

"There are always other opportunities - that is the beauty of sport," 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.

"I am sure when people looked at the RFU's original brief, they might have thought there were better people than me. But it is about taking your chance when it comes."

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 a week on Thursday.

"I will review how we go in South Africa when we come back and Mike's role will form part of that. I wouldn't say now Mike will continue. His role will finish on the June 30 and we will review it in July. I am pleased I have got this team in place for the tour. I want to make sure that goes well and I will have a look out there and see what is available then.

"We have got three full seasons before the 2015 World Cup. I want to make sure I don't rush and make the wrong decisions. I want to take time to think about it. Someone from the southern hemisphere is maybe a good thing - it broadens everything, but I am pretty open-minded."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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