Rowntree expects youthful EPS
December 12, 2011
Graham Rowntree, along with Farrell and Lancaster, will lead England into the forthcoming Six Nations © Getty Images
England forward coach Graham Rowntree expects there to be an influx of new blood when the Elite Player Squad is named for the 2012 Six Nations.
Stuart Lancaster and Rowntree spent the recent weekend of Heineken Cup action ground-hopping to take in as many potential candidates for the forthcoming Six Nations as possible while backs coach Andy Farrell was part of the Saracens coaching side which defeated the Ospreys 31-26. The trio were confirmed as the group to lead England into 2012 on an interim basis last week and with the World Cup just four years away, Rowntree believes now is the right time to bring in some fresh faces.
"I think there will be an influx of young talent into the squad," Rowntree told rfu.com. "I think the time is right, a World Cup is different and has different pressures and you've got to get that balance right between young and old players.
"But what we have got, as a nation, is some great young players in most positions and I think it's time for a good number of those people on both squads."
Despite England taking the 2011 Six Nations, the side - under Martin Johnson's guidance endured a torrid World Cup - and Rowntree believes it is now the right time to look forward rather than reflect on previous failings. "It's far from all bad but the way the World Cup was packaged up, on and off the field, has led to a lot of angst within the rugby community," Rowntree said. "So I want to start again, we've got a slate to wipe clean and get a young group of players and start looking forward."
One criticism leveled at previous England regimes was their tendency to pick on reputation rather than form and Rowntree will look to the directors of rugby in the Premiership for their opinion on their own players in a bid to select a side hitting their respective straps at the right time.
"Enjoyment is very important in terms of the guys playing for each other, it's important that we get that environment right," Rowntree said. "Enjoy each other, work hard and go out there and play exciting rugby.
"What we're going to do first of all is go out and speak to all the Directors of Rugby because they're the ones with all the knowledge of the players. Get out and see the players, get into the rugby community and pick the right people for the First and Saxons squads."
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