England Rugby
Lancaster 'dragged England out of gutter'
ESPNscrum Staff
March 20, 2012
England assistant coach Graham Rowntree chats with the press, Twickenham, London, England, March 20, 2012
Graham Rowntree wants the current coaching team to be retained © Getty Images
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England assistant coach Graham Rowntree insists Stuart Lancaster has "dragged England out of the gutter" and deserves to be retained as head coach.

Lancaster, who took the reins in the wake of England's disastrous World Cup campaign, is expected to be interviewed for the full-time position later this week. The Rugby Football Union are thought to also have the former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett on their shortlist.

Lancaster's bid for the job was fully endorsed on Tuesday by forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who said the environment he had created in the England squad was better than he had ever known. England finished second in the championship and succeeded in restoring a sense of national pride in the team.

"Stuart has dragged us out of the gutter," Rowntree said. "We failed (at the World Cup) and the whole leaked reports business was messy. That was only a few weeks ago but we've come a long way.

"My over-riding feeling is of pride - but there's a load more to come from this group of players and I'm dying to work with them again. I don't want anything to change. You can't argue with what he's done, performance-wise and culturally with this group.

"On Saturday night after the official dinner we went back to the hotel and a cracking night but it was tinged with sadness because we felt emotionally the journey was coming to an end. I have never felt that before. I have always been ready for home.

"The players have created that environment on the back of Stuart's culture. It was the best I've know as a player and coach - better than Lions because of the place we were in beforehand."

Lancaster persuaded Saracens to loan Andy Farrell to England's interim coaching team but he has now returned to club duty, where he has a two-year contract. Saracens insist there is no prospect of a permanent job share and that is one issue Lancaster must address when he meets the RFU's interview panel.

Rowntree has relished the tight three-man management group that Lancaster put in place and would like Farrell to continue in his post as backs coach.

"I understand Andy's position (with regards to Saracens) and I admire Andy's loyalty," Rowntree said. "I have really enjoyed working with him, training with him and drinking with him!"

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