Strong England element to Lions?

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 10:35
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England players could make up the bulk of the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour to Australia next year.

England players could make up the bulk of the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour to Australia next year.

The possibility follows the appointments of Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell as assistant coaches and England’s demolishing of the All Blacks at Twickenham.  

The English coaching pair, who will commence their secondment in May, joining head coach Warren Gatland and attack coach Rob Howley, talked of their pride and honour at the invitation to be part of the 2013 tour.

Forwards coach Rowntree said: “It’s a fantastic honour, these things only come about a couple of times in your career. It’s the pinnacle of a player’s career and I’m pretty sure it’s the pinnacle of a coach’s career as well.”

Farrell, who will run the defence against the Wallabies, added: “I’m very proud and honoured to be asked, and to go on such a special tour is a dream come true really.

“You start getting excited when you think about the players you’re going to be coaching and the team of management that you’re going to be working with.”

Rowntree believes the selection is down to the efforts of the England team as a whole, which culminated with the historic win over New Zealand. The two-time Lions tourist as a player said: “It’s a real testament to the players we’ve got.

“Certainly for me, as a forwards coach, to be saying to the lads, ‘Look, we play like that again, we have to play like that again going forward, and if we do, then there’s a lot of you guys going to be putting your hands up for Lions selection .’ It’s the ultimate carrot for them to aim for.”

Former Great Britain Rugby League captain Farrell echoed his sentiments, also noting the possibility of a strong English element in the travelling contingent: “For me and Graham to be on this tour and for hopefully a good handful of players to be there as well is going to be a good testament to what we’ve got going here at England and the environment that we’ve all created.”

For the moment, though, the pair are focused only on the upcoming Six Nations campaign and the challenges and opportunities it will bring for the coaches and players.

Rowntree said: “We certainly won’t take our eye off the ball. Our first job is being coaches for the England team, but I’m hoping especially on the back of the New Zealand game, there’ll be a lot of England players on the tour.”

Farrell added: “There’s a long period before the tour takes place, there’s a lot of business to be taken care of before then, so watch this space.”

England embark on a two-Test, four-game tour to Argentina in June during Rowntree and Farrell’s secondment, with the coaching and support team for that series to be announced in due course.

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