Mallett still in the England mix
March 19, 2012
Former Boks coach Nick Mallett has praised England's results under interim coach Stuart Lancaster © Getty Images
Nick Mallett remains a leading contender for the England coaching job despite appearing to concede the position to interim boss Stuart Lancaster at the weekend.
Mallett has long been considered the favourite succeed Martin Johnson who quit as England manager following last year's Rugby World Cup, but Lancaster's success in revitalising the team - culminating with a 30-9 victory over Ireland that secured second place in the Six Nations - has seemingly convinced him that the Rugby Football Union may opt to retain the current coaching team.
"You can't see the RFU wanting to change a coach when you look at the team and how happy they are," an honest Mallett told Supersport before adding that it would take a "very brave" chief executive to displace Lancaster after a campaign that has also seen the side register victories over Scotland, Italy and France.
However, it is understood that 55-year-old has no intention of withdrawing his application and will leave it to the RFU to decide between the two front-runners for the post. England's resurgence under Lancaster has won over the bookmakers with William Hill now making him the 1/7 favourite to be handed the reins full-time with Mallett drifting out to 4/1.
Mallett's resolve may have been strengthened by reports that the RFU remain adamant that they will not be swayed by the widespread praise heaped on 42-year-old Lancaster since taking the helm. They will analyse the credentials of all the applicants with Mallett's greater international experience as a player and coach seemingly weighing heavily in his favour.
The Rugby Football Union's chief executive Ian Ritchie, who was recently quoted as saying that Lancaster has done a "fantastic job" since taking temporary charge at the start of the year, is reportedly set to interview both men later this week.
A panel comprising Sir Ian McGeechan, the Bath director of rugby, Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea, RFU executive Rob Andrew and ex-England flanker Richard Hill and chaired by Ritchie will then select the successful applicant.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.