Rowntree: Places up for grabs
December 22, 2011
Graham Rowntree is the only coach to remain from England's poor World Cup campaign © Getty Images
Graham Rowntee says England's new coaching team have held discussions over selection for the coming Six Nations but he insists places are up for grabs.
The coaching team, lead by interim head coach Stuart Lancaster, will name revised Senior EPS and Saxons squads on January 11, with England's defence of their crown starting on ahead against Scotland on February 4 at Murrayfield.
Rowntree and Lancaster face a busy schedule of scouting potential call-ups over the Christmas and New Year period with Andy Farrell, the third member of England's new coaching set-up, engaged on Saracens duty.
A number of new faces are expected in England's Six Nations squad following the retirement of Jonny Wilkinson, Steve Thompson and Simon Shaw and the disappointing World Cup campaign, which has generate an appetite for change among the England fans.
"We've spoken tentatively about selection but nothing is set in stone in terms of selection so everything is up for grabs," he told RFU.com. "Nothing, categorically, has been decided."
England's previous regime was often criticised for failing to unleash the potential of players and shackling them with over-prescriptive instructions from the sidelines. Rowntree hopes England's new coaching team can create an atmosphere where players are empowered to play their natural games without the fear of failure.
"We want players to play the best they can," he said. "I would like to think that when they come to play for England they can think about playing their best game. Not being shackled by thinking that they are playing for England and can't make a mistake.
"We want them to come to us, be excited and confident and go out there and play as well as they can for their country."
Rowntree is the sole survivor from England's coaching set-up at the World Cup following the resignations of Martin Johnson and Brian Smith and the departures of John Wells, Mike Ford and Dave Alred. And the former Leicester and England prop hopes the national team's failures at the World Cup will not come to define the reputations and contributions of Wells and Ford.
"There has been a lot written and said [about the World Cup] but you can not escape the quality record we have over the last few years in terms of how we play and our results, 10 out of 13," Rowntree said.
"We have done quite well if you take away all the furore over the fallout from the World Cup and Fordy and Wellsy have been a big part of that. I am still a kid in terms of my coaching career and I have learned so much from those guys, particularly Wellsy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra