England tour of South Africa
Leonard: Get Farrell back in England tracksuit
June 3, 2012
Jason Leonard was speaking at Mitcham RFC during renovation work carried out as part of the RBS RugbyForce weekend © Getty Images
Former England prop Jason Leonard has told ESPNscrum that Andy Farrell deserves to rejoin England's coaching set-up and expects to see him reinstated following the tour of South Africa.
Farrell resigned from his role as head coach of Saracens on Thursday evening, leading to widespread speculation that a return to the England fold was imminent.
The dual-code international was one of Stuart Lancaster's lieutenants during the 2012 Six Nations and, although he turned down the opportunity to join England's coaching team on a full-time basis in April in favour of seeing out his contract with his Premiership employers, the path now appears clear for him to perform a dramatic U-turn if invited to reconsider his position by Lancaster.
Lancaster has since denied he has spoken to Farrell about a possible vacancy, insisting he will not be making any immediate additions to his coaching team. However, Leonard believes Farrell will be reinstated once Lancaster has returned from the three-Test tour of South Africa and has had time to assess where and how he can strengthen among the coaching ranks.
"From an English perspective, England would love to see him as part of the coaching setup," Leonard told ESPNscrum. "Everyone spoke very highly of his contribution during the Six Nations when he was allowed leave from his club commitments with Saracens to help England out. I think all the England players thought he was fantastic and Lancaster was pleased with his contributions.
"I think most of the game would like to see Andy Farrell in an England tracksuit, part of the coaching set-up going forward to the 2015 World Cup."
In Farrell's absence, Mike Catt - who recently left London Irish - has taken up a temporary post with England, acting as their attack coach for the trip to South Africa. It remains to be seen whether Catt will stay on once his interim spell comes to an end, but Leonard sees no reason why Farrell cannot take on the role of defence coach and become the fourth member of the coaching line-up.
"I don't see why not," he added. "I don't see it as a firmly stamped no, but by any means I don't see it as a yes either. They'll get the tour out the way and then assess things. That's the right way to go. The players have got the tour to worry about, that's the most important thing on their minds at the moment. It's the same with the coaching staff.
"I'm pretty sure Lancaster is very busy at this moment in time but after the tour is finished there has got to be conversations about whether there's space for another coach; I'm sure there is after hearing he did an immense job in the Six Nations. Hopefully that conversation will take place."
Jason Leonard was helping out with Mitcham RFC's renovation work during the RBS RugbyForce weekend. For more information on the programme visit rbs.com/rugbyforce.
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