Lancaster solely focused on France
March 6, 2012
Stuart Lancaster will be interviewed for the England position shortly © Getty Images
England's interim coach Stuart Lancaster insists that he is solely focused on their next game against France and that he is not distracted by his imminent interview for the full-time role.
The Rugby Football Union want to finalise the appointment of Martin Johnson's permanent successor before the end of the championship. England tackle France in Paris on Sunday and then face a six-day turnaround before their final match, against Ireland at Twickenham on March 17.
Lancaster, currently the interim boss, said: "There's a lot going on in terms of preparation for those two games but I'm comfortable preparations are as they should be. I can't control the timelines. All I can do is do this job to the best of my ability and I can guarantee that's what I'll do."
Lancaster and Nick Mallett, the former South Africa and Italy head coach, are seen as the front-runners for the job of leading England into the 2015 World Cup on home soil. The RFU will interview their shortlisted candidates at some stage over the next two weeks. Lancaster is relishing the opportunity to coach England and he is seeing week-on-week improvements in a squad he rebuilt following the World Cup.
"I really enjoy coaching and trying to develop people and develop teams and to do it at the highest level is a huge honour," Lancaster said. "There are many demands but singing the national anthem at Twickenham against Wales was an unbelievable experience."
The fact Lancaster will be interviewed before the end of the Six Nations suggests his chances do not rest heavily on England's results. Lancaster has restored a sense of pride in the national team following the World Cup debacle and his work to clean up the image of English rugby has impressed Twickenham executives.
But the former Leeds director of rugby will need to convince the RFU he has the vision and ability to lead England into the 2015 World Cup, ahead of an experienced candidate like Mallett. Lancaster's first difficult decision as interim coach was to suspend Danny Care after he was arrested - and subsequently convicted - of drink driving on New Year's Day. On Monday night, he was forced to warn Care that he risked wasting his England future after a third drink-related arrest in just three months.
"Fundamentally he is a talented player with great individual potential but clearly he is making wrong decisions at the moment and he needs to address that," Lancaster said. "I'll be sitting down and having a frank conversation with him about the decisions he's making and how it's affecting his chances of coming back and playing for England.
"We made our decision not to include him in the Six Nations and that's what we've done. There are bridges and trust to be rebuilt before he gets included further down the line. There are three good scrum-halves in the England squad now (Lee Dickson, Karl Dickson and Ben Youngs) and Joe Simpson will come back (after he has recovered from injury) so there's a lot of competition there."
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