England deny Farrell contact
June 1, 2012
England boss Stuart Lancaster explains to reporters that he has made no approach to former Saracens coach Andy Farrell © Getty Images
England boss Stuart Lancaster insists he will not be making any immediate additions to his coaching team despite Andy Farrell's surprise exit from Premiership side Saracens - but has hinted he may call on his former assistant in the future.
Farrell quit his role as Sarries' first team coach on Thursday night with subsequent reports suggesting he was poised for a swift return to the international management team.
The dual-code international served as one of Lancaster's assistants during this year's Six Nations having been granted a temporary release from his Saracens contract but turned his back on a full-time role in favour of seeing out his contract with his Premiership employers.
Lancaster, whose squad are in Durban preparing for the first of three Test clashes with South Africa on June 9, has denied any kind of approach for Farrell but is interested in renewing a relationship that showed plenty of promise during the Six Nations.
"He's made his decision (with Saracens) but I've not been party to that, I've been out here. I guess it will all unfold over the course of the next few weeks and when I get back I'll have a chance to sit down and look at it and find out exactly what the situation is," he said on Sky Sports News. "Without doubt he's a coach I get on well with, he added value to the coaching team and if he's available, clearly I'll definitely be interested."
Lancaster had hoped to retain Farrell post-Six Nations and having been forced to make changes to his support staff he was later rebuffed by former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith. Former London Irish assistant coach Mike Catt eventually filled the void on a short-term contract and is currently working alongside Lancaster and fellow assistant Graham Rowntree in South Africa.
"I just want to categorically confirm that he (Farrell) won't be joining the coaching team out here in South Africa," Lancaster said. "I said at the outset when Mike was appointed that I was going to look at the coaching team at the end of the tour and that situation remains the same.
"I've not spoken to Andy about the coaching position since before I got the job as permanent head coach. I've spoken to him a couple of times since, but mainly on selection and form matters relating to Saracens players.
"I'm pretty open-minded about the whole thing. Right when I started and got the permanent job I said the decision between having three or four coaches is something I've considered.
"Andy chose to stay at Saracens, then I had a chat with Wayne Smith, then Mike came on board. I said at the time that I would review it and part of that review is obviously looking at all our roles, how it works on this trip, and whether we need a fourth coach. Andy is clearly someone who did a great job during the Six Nations and who I rate highly, but I'm not sure when he will be available."
ESPNscrum understands that Farrell will not be allowed to take up another coaching role for six months due to the terms of his contract - unless Saracens agree to a compensation package. That would also mean he would not be able to join the England coaching team until after the November international if the RFU chose not offer a financial package to secure his release. Lancaster insists the issue will not serve as a distraction over the coming weeks.
"'It certainly didn't (prove a disruption) in terms of training, if you looked at the quality and intensity of it. The players rolled their sleeves up and just got on with it," he said. "If you get distracted by things that happened in the past or might happen in the future you will lose your focus on the here and now. With all the games coming up, all our focus and energy is on preparing for the Tests.
"We consider this as one of the toughest tours to undertake in world rugby, to come to South Africa and play a three-game Tests series. We're excited about the challenge but also respectful about the challenge as well.
"South Africa did well in the World Cup, didn't quite get through the final stages but they've got a new coaching team, a new momentum and a new impetus behind them. I'm sure they'll be highly motivated going into the Durban Test and we expect a very physical and tough challenge."
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