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Chris Ashton backed by Saracens coach Paul Gustard

Ashton backed by Saracens coach Gustard after poor Six Nations

Rob Wildman


21:49 GMT, 2 April 2013



07:14 GMT, 3 April 2013

Chris Ashton, the under-fire England wing, has received the backing of Saracens defence coach Paul Gustard.

The club head into Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Twickenham believing Ashton is in excellent form despite his poor Six Nations campaign that led to an inquest into his tackling.

Ashton scored his first try in almost two months last Saturday, against Wasps, and Gustard expects more in the Heineken Cup.

Out of sorts: Ashton scored just one try in the Six Nations

Out of sorts: Ashton scored just one try in the Six Nations

Jumping for joy: Chris Ashton celebrates after scoring against Wasps

Jumping for joy: Ashton celebrates after scoring against Wasps last weekend

‘Even if Chris had not scored a try, it does not mean he’s not played well,’ Gustard said. ‘He’s done really, really well for us in the last two weeks and is in a good place after a good show at Wasps.

The problem of being a wing in rugby is that it’s a bit like being a goalkeeper in football. You are the last line in defence; a mistake can cost you.

‘Chris is not a bad defender. Sometimes, he misses a tackle but so what Everyone misses a tackle,’ Gustard added.

On the run: Ashton charges upfield playing for Saracens

On the run: Ashton charges upfield playing for Saracens

He could also be Ashton’s coach on England’s summer tour of Argentina if he does not make the Lions trip to Australia.

Gustard is taking over temporarily because Andy Farrell will help coach the Lions with Warren Gatland.

‘I’m not going to change the way England defend,’ he said. ‘The system has worked well over the last season. It’s a matter of learning and developing as a coach.’

SIX NATIONS 2013: Andy Farrell – Jim Telfer "arrogant England" jibes are just a Scotsman trying to stir passion

Farrell: Telfer's 'arrogant England' jibes are just a Scotsman trying to stir up passion

Alex Lowe, Press Association


16:15 GMT, 29 January 2013



17:53 GMT, 29 January 2013


Lions legend: Jim Telfer was critical of England

England are too arrogant, pretentious and condescending to realise they're not as good as they think they are!

Click here to read the full explosive interview

Andy Farrell has insisted he does not recognise the accusation of 'arrogance' that has been levelled at the England squad by Lions legend Jim Telfer.

Responding to Sportsmail's exclusive interview with the former Scotland coach, Farrell revealed the players have laughed off the jibes, which he believes are designed to get the Scots fired up before their trip to Twickenham for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown.

The England management under Stuart Lancaster have worked hard over the last 12 months to eradicate any sense of arrogance from the national team.

Big week ahead: The England squad in training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot on Tuesday morning

Big week ahead: The England squad in training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot on Tuesday morning

Farrell said: 'I definitely don’t recognise anything he has said.

'People say this every year about the English anyway. It has stuck now. That is why we take it tongue-in-cheek. We know exactly what we are about.

'A couple of the lads have seen it and they are all taking the mick out of each other. They think it’s quite funny about those who have been mentioned. There are a few jokes flying around the place.'

Telfer told Sportsmail that England, who beat New Zealand on the same weekend as Scotland lost to Tonga, are not as good as they think they are.

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

He said: 'They are too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending to realise they have a problem.'

Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi were named as 'very impressionable' players who let the All Blacks win go to their heads.

There was credit for England’s coaching team of Lancaster, Farrell and Graham Rowntree, who Telfer described as: 'All from the North and all down to earth.'

Lancaster’s first aim when he took interim charge of the England squad a year ago was to reconnect the national team to their roots.

On the ball: England backs coach Andy Farrell, and with captain Chris Robshaw (below) on Tuesday

On the ball: England backs coach Andy Farrell, and with captain Chris Robshaw (below) on Tuesday

Talking tactics: England backs coach Andy Farrell (right) with captain Chris Robshaw on Tuesday

Top post: England boss Stuart Lancaster

Top post: England boss Stuart Lancaster

In the wake of the 2011 World Cup disappointments, Lancaster wanted to restore a sense of pride in the jersey from within the squad and a sense of pride in the England team from the public.

England now prepare for the RBS 6 Nations in Leeds rather than in Portugal. They drew 6,000 to an open training session at Headingley and Lancaster last Friday held a seminar for 500 grass-roots coaches.

Telfer’s comments have certainly stoked the boiler ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Twickenham, where Scotland have not won in 30 years.

'He’s Scottish isn’t he, very passionate about his country and he wants to give his lads as much belief as he can,' Farrell said. 'He cares about his country.

'It is him trying to do the right thing by his own country, to try and motivate them.

'That is what he has always been about really – passion and stirring a few feathers up along the way. It is what you want, a bit of passion.'

Andy Farrell on why he took England job

When your country calls: England coach Farrell on why he left Sarries after all



21:00 GMT, 26 September 2012

It wasn't until he was on holiday at the end of a long, tiring, eventful season that it struck Andy Farrell — he had made the wrong decision. When he finally had time to take stock, he realised that he couldn’t say ‘no’ to England.

Weeks earlier, the former Great Britain rugby league captain had rejected the chance to carry on where he had left off as part of the interim national coaching team by taking up the offer of a long-term role working for Stuart Lancaster.

In the period between the Six Nations and the approach from the RFU, he had returned to the day-job at Saracens and convinced himself that there he should remain. His country needed him but Farrell didn’t want to let down his ‘mates’ at his club.

Split loyalties: Andy Farrell did not want to let his Saracens colleagues down

Split loyalties: Andy Farrell did not want to let his Saracens colleagues down

At the time, the explanation issued on behalf of the 37-year-old was that it was too early in his coaching career to take the full-time leap into international rugby. But when the season with Saracens came to an end and he took a well-earned rest, he had second thoughts about the wisdom of his decision and the logic behind it.

‘There was an emotional connection at a cut-throat time in the season with a club that has been so good to you,’ he said. ‘But at the back of your mind you have the chance to go on this journey with the national side. It (the realisation) came about two weeks after the season finished when everyone had gone their separate ways.

‘Everybody wants to coach the national side. You turn it down and you get on because there is a lot of work to do, but when you have time to reflect…’

Back again: Stuart Lancaster (right) and Farrell (left) are together once more

Back again: Stuart Lancaster (right) and Farrell (left) are together once more

Asked if certain memories of a positive Six Nations campaign in difficult circumstances had swayed him in his re-think, he added: ‘I still think about them (memories) now — Paris and the Welsh game, the atmosphere, etc etc. It doesn’t get much better in top-line sport than those occasions. We believe that there are many more of those to come and that’s what we want to be involved in.

‘I had a great time doing the interim job so I wanted to be involved, but the dilemma was so great. I had a fantastic club that looked after me well and an international job that involves working with the cream of the country against the best in the world, at the start of something special. It was an emotional rollercoaster.’

Farrell found it hard to adopt the role of detached spectator during England’s tour of South Africa, when Mike Catt joined the coaching team and he watched the side he had helped to forge take its next steps. He was in Durban for the first Test, then in Australia when the second and third were played.

‘Watching those games was bloody hard work because I was jetlagged and it was two in the morning!’ he said, at the launch of the BMW Performance Academy. ‘I wanted to be on a walkie-talkie, shouting messages!’

Back to business: Farrell (right) speaking at Wokefield Park

Back to business: Farrell (right) speaking at Wokefield Park

Instead, he was taking a rare opportunity to learn more about his trade. Rather than regarding the England job as coming too soon in his development as a coach, Farrell recognised that it presented opportunities to further that process.

‘One of the reasons I wanted to take the job is it allowed me to get better as a coach,’ he said. ‘It is a very hard, long season being a Premiership coach. You go from one week to the next. You never get that much time for your own individual development.

‘This job allows you to be able to go and see, say, Sir Alex Ferguson and find out how he gets down to the real nitty-gritty and detail of coaching. I am able to find time to think and reflect and take a breath and be able to work out what that detail should be.

‘While everyone was in South Africa, I went to Australia for a couple of weeks. I have good contacts over there in league and union, and I went to eight clubs. That is the first time I have been able to do that. I even went to two Aussie-rules games. We can learn something from all the other sports.’

Most of all, what Farrell had learned is that it is difficult to ignore your country’s call.

Wigan 46 Catalan Dragons 6: Match report

Wigan 46 Catalan Dragons 6: Classy Carmont aiming for a fine farewell

Neil Barraclough


23:40 GMT, 14 September 2012



23:40 GMT, 14 September 2012

Shaune Wane set his sights on giving hat-trick hero George Carmont the perfect finish to his career after this comfortable play-off romp.

Carmont scored twice in the first nine minutes and then completed his treble 12 minutes from time as Wigan cruised into the Super League semi-finals.

But the 34-year-old insists he will hang up his boots at the end of the season, despite still being one of the best centres in the competition.

Off Pat: The conversion goes over for kicker Richards

Off Pat: The conversion goes over for kicker Richards

Wane said: ‘I speak to him every day.

‘He’s a quality player and he’s a very proud man. He loves this town and this club and he wants to make sure he goes out on a high.

‘He’s one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with, and if he wants to finish on a high note then I’m hell-bent on doing that for him.’

Carmont grabbed the headlines, but another departing veteran, Brett Finch, was the brains behind this Wigan triumph.

Aussie stand-off Finch, 31, will also return Down Under at the end of the year after leaving an indelible mark on the Warriors. He soldiered on with a restrictive leg injury to make a telling contribution despite barely getting beyond walking pace, as Wigan built up a 22-6 advantage.

His stunning pass sent Carmont over for the opener, then he split Catalan’s line with a short ball that released Liam Farrell and set up Carmont’s second.

By the time Thomas Leuluai fended off Greg Mounis for the hosts’ third score, Wigan were uncatchable.

Catalan eventually found a way through, with Thomas Bosc exposing a four-on-one overlap before feeding Louis Anderson, but Finch and Leuluai combined to create enough space for Darrell Goulding to crash over before half time.

Farrell strolled over for a deserved score three minutes into the second half, then Sam Tomkins gathered Matty Smith’s kick to inflict further misery on the well-beaten visitors.

Carmont’s hat-trick try and a wonder score from Josh Charnley, who beat five men on a 100-metre dash, finished a fine night for the Warriors.

The Catalan boss Trent Robinson said: ‘We fought hard to finish fourth and get here, but we didn’t show that. Wigan taught us another lesson.’

Matt Stevens retires from England duty

Stevens calls time on England career to focus on Saracens



14:42 GMT, 9 August 2012

England prop Matt Stevens has retired from international rugby.

The Saracens forward has won 44 caps for his country and played at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.

But the 29-year-old feels he cannot commit himself through to the next World Cup in England in 2015, and has chosen to step down from Test duty and focus his efforts on club rugby.

All over: Matt Stevens has brought the curtain down in his international career

All over: Matt Stevens has brought the curtain down in his international career

He said in an RFU statement: 'This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. Playing for England has been the ultimate honour and I have been very privileged and proud to wear the white shirt and play with some great players.'

Stevens added: 'I believe England under (head coach) Stuart (Lancaster), Graham (Rowntree) and Andy (Farrell) are heading in the right direction towards 2015 and I remain a huge supporter of what they are doing.

'But I have a young family and, conscious that I would not be able to commit to the World Cup in three years, I have decided that the time is right to call it a day and to focus on my rugby at Saracens.'

Stevens had been named in Lancaster's Elite Player Squad for the coming season, and the head coach will need to choose a replacement for the 2005 Lions tourist.

Club man: Stevens has decided to concentrate on his Saracens career

Club man: Stevens has decided to concentrate on his Saracens career

Lancaster said: 'On behalf of England Rugby I want to thank Matt for his contribution over the years. He should look back on his international career with pride. I am sure he will continue to be successful with Saracens and beyond.'

Stevens, then with Bath, made his England debut on the 2004 summer tour to New Zealand and his strong scrummaging and prominence in the loose quickly made him a regular.

But his career was almost destroyed in January 2009 when he tested positive for cocaine following a Heineken Cup game against Glasgow the previous month.

European Rugby Cup (ERC) imposed a two-year ban on Stevens for his drug offence but he vowed to return to the game when his suspension ended in January 2011.

Saracens announced the signing of the South-Africa born forward a full year before his return, and he quickly made an impact once back in action.

He helped his new side secure the Premiership title and he was rewarded by returning to the international fold with the England Saxons squad last summer.

He resumed his Test career in England's World Cup warm-up matches, subsequently winning a place in the squad for the tournament in New Zealand.

He appeared off the bench in all five of last season's RBS 6 Nations fixtures, but missed the tour of South Africa with a shoulder injury.

Jon Wilkin will captain England against Exiles

Wilkin will skipper England against Exiles after Peacock's retirement



14:45 GMT, 2 July 2012

St Helens captain Jon Wilkin will captain England in Wednesday's origin international against the Exiles at Huddersfield.

Wilkin, 28, will take over the role from Jamie Peacock, who announced his retirement from international rugby league with immediate effect, at the end of June.

He was left out of the team for the opening game but is one of six changes made by coach Steve McNamara for the return game at the Galpharm Stadium.

Captain: Jon Wilkin will skipper England

Captain: Jon Wilkin will skipper England

McNamara confirmed debuts for Warrington utility back Stefan Ratchford while Danny Brough (Huddersfield) and Matty Smith (Salford) will form a new-look half-back partnership, with forwards Scott Taylor (Hull KR) and Liam Farrell (Wigan) on the bench.

They will line up alongside nine survivors of the team that won 18-10 in the opening game at Langtree Park.

'We have a young, hungry side,' said McNamara. 'We have made a number of changes from the first game and it is an exciting opportunity to see some real quality young players coming in and staking a claim for a regular place in the side.'

McNamara is also looking forward to see how Brough and Smith cut it at this level forming a new half-back combination.

'Matty and Danny really excite me,' he added. 'They have been in tremendous form in the Stobart Super League and I know they have the ability to step up and perform at this level.

'They will complement each other's skills and can form a devastating partnership.'

Andy Farrell rejoins England"s coaching staff

Lancaster gets his man as Farrell rejoins England's coaching staff



10:22 GMT, 28 June 2012

Andy Farrell is to rejoin the England coaching team on July 2, the Rugby Football Union have announced.

Farrell has signed a contract through to January 2016 and he will take charge of England's backs and defence for their tilt at World Cup glory on home soil in 2015.

The former dual international was part of Stuart Lancaster's interim coaching team for this year's RBS Six Nations, which guided England to second place in the championship.

England return: Andy Farrell is back in the coaching set-up

England return: Andy Farrell is back in the coaching set-up

Farrell initially decided his
coaching future lay with Saracens, who had released him on secondment to
England, but changed his mind at the end of the Aviva Premiership

'I loved every minute of coaching
England and working with Stuart and Graham Rowntree and this group of
players in the Six Nations and to get the opportunity to do it
permanently is a dream,' said Farrell.

'I have watched England in South
Africa and I am massively excited about the potential that was clearly
evident in the three Tests and midweek matches.

'I had seven very special years with
Saracens and the club will always have a fond place in my heart. I am
grateful for the help they have given me as a player and a coach and I
wish everyone involved the best in the future.'

Back in the fold: Farrell with Lancaster at an England training session back in January

Back in the fold: Farrell with Lancaster at an England training session back in January

Farrell was replaced for England's
summer tour of South Africa by Mike Catt, who is still under
consideration for a role in an expanded four-man senior coaching team.

'I will continue to review the
make-up of the coaching team over the next few weeks to ensure that
England has the best structure and personnel,' Lancaster said.

'I am delighted that we have got Andy
on board. He is a special coach and an individual and the way this team
has developed is a testament to the foundations that we laid in the Six

'Andy, Graham and myself work well
together and I am looking forward to carrying on that close relationship
over the next three-and-a-half years as we build towards a home World

England restore pride in Port Elizabeth

Pride is restored in Port Elizabeth but now Lancaster must deliver the big scalp



21:00 GMT, 24 June 2012

The last time England conducted a review in the aftermath of a major overseas expedition, it led to a very public, very damaging frenzy of accusations and bloodletting. There will be no such fallout on this occasion.

While the post-World Cup inquest uncovered systemic failings which required urgent remedial action, the analysis of the trip to South Africa will be far less explosive.

Two Test defeats, two midweek victories and a gallant draw in the series finale on Saturday amounts to a middling return – a pass mark at a push, but an indication that a young, raw squad can emerge as a force in time.

Try time: Danny Care gives England a first-half lead in Port Elizabeth

Try time: Danny Care gives England a first-half lead in Port Elizabeth

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will take stock over the next week before naming revised EPS senior and Saxons squads, with the peace of mind that his employers are satisfied with progress.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie offered a measured endorsement on Sunday, saying: ‘We want to win every game and we look at what happened on that basis. That said, I think we achieved a lot. Yesterday’s performance was a committed one, to come here and get a draw.

‘History proves how difficult it is to come to this place and win, yet in all three games (Tests) we were competitive, committed and we will do better. We can look forward to the autumn series with confidence.’

That assessment allows Lancaster breathing space to shuffle his playing cards, then tackle the pressing issue of finalising a long-term coaching staff, with Andy Farrell’s return seemingly a formality. The head coach’s own appraisal of this tour and series was that it proved England have ‘strong foundations’.

It is crucial the solid but unspectacular returns here are viewed in such terms. This exercise has provided the team with what should be regarded as a starting position – a reference point for what lies ahead.

They have been given a stark indication of what is required to compete at the sharp end, not in the relative comfort of the European game but in contests with the southern elite.

Close call: Farrell (left) missed a late drop goal

Close call: Farrell (left) missed a late drop goal

What they have done is to establish a platform of do-or-die collective resolve – on a higher level to anything in the Six Nations.

Their spirit and courage is not in doubt, but so much more is required if England are to make sufficient progress to win two or three of their four autumn Tests – against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – as they should. Mike Catt paid Lancaster the compliment of saying that, in six months, he has fostered the sort of positive culture and environment it took Sir Clive Woodward three years to create. Well, that has to remain a constant in England’s make-up, one of those minimum standards.

Lancaster acknowledged that the finer points must be addressed for further development to take place, saying: ‘I’m pleased with the strength we have, with the players looking forward to playing for England. The next step is to get the detail right in terms of how we make the players world class, how we help them physically, tactically, mentally, and how they fine-tune that to enable them to win.’

James Haskell was one of those players who rose to the challenge of meeting the Springbok juggernaut head on in Saturday’s stalemate. Having given body and soul to a stirring defensive effort, the Otago Highlanders back-rower suggested England have become better at answering questions, but need to be more adept at asking them too.

‘Put the physical battle to one side, we’ve got to be a bit more creative in attack,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to test teams more. We’ve got the ability in terms of the physicality and the quality to finish, but it’s difficult when you keep attacking and they have 13 guys on their feet all the time.

Plenty to ponder: Lancaster (right) will name a revised EPS squad

Plenty to ponder: Lancaster (right) will name a revised EPS squad


SOUTH AFRICA: Aplon; Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), Olivier, Habana;
Steyn, Hougaard (Pienaar 50min); Mtawarira, B du Plessis (Strauss 63),
J du Plessis (W Kruger 76); Etzebeth (Van der Merwe 76), J Kruger;
Coetzee, Spies, Potgieter (Kankowski 54).
Try: Pietersen. Pens: M Steyn 3.

ENGLAND – Try: Care. Pens: Flood, Farrell 2. Sin-bin: Hartley.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).

Attendance: 46,000.

‘We’ve got to be a bit smarter to tie
more guys in, then we can let the likes of (Chris) Ashton and Manu
(Tuilagi) run at holes instead of running at people.’

were again guilty of conceding possession far too readily with aimless
tactical kicking. While there has been much talk of ‘exit strategies’ on
this trip, it appeared an almost criminal offence to send the ball
straight back to South African runners, having expended so much energy
winning it. Sure, there is a need to secure attacking territory, but
there was a lack of balance and common sense. No matter how many times
in-field kicks served no positive purpose, Owen Farrell in particular
kept repeating the process.

have Jonathan Joseph at No 13 and for a second week in succession fail
to set him running into space was a waste of a promising asset. Only in
the latter stages, in an attempt to strike the telling blow, did the
visitors trust their carriers, keep hold of the ball and realise that
doing so was a bright idea.

Care’s try had given them a deserved advantage and with Morne Steyn
missing three of his six shots at goal, England had victory within their
grasp in front of a restless home crowd in the closing seconds, but
Farrell’s drop-goal attempt was horribly wayward.

While disappointed they hadn’t quite claimed a first win over the Boks since 2006, Lancaster and his players could take comfort from avoiding a series whitewash, which both Ireland and Wales did not manage.

The head coach is allowing one more year for the endless lessons to sink in before he expects England to be settled and building momentum, but in reality – with a World Cup seeding at stake – they must start passing Tests in November.

ENGLAND average rating.jpg

ENGLAND average rating.jpg

Chris Ashton gutted to see Andy Farrell leave Saracens

Ashton gutted to see Farrell leave Saracens a month after signing for the club



21:14 GMT, 6 June 2012

England's Saracens-bound wing Chris Ashton has revealed his surprise and disappointment at Andy Farrell's decision to quit the club.

Farrell surprisingly resigned as Sarries first-team coach last week just over a month after apparently committing his future to them by turning down a role with England.

While that decision has sparked speculation Farrell is destined to work in Stuart Lancaster's national set-up after all – and therefore link up with Ashton – it has removed one of the full-back's prime reasons for moving to Vicarage Road from Northampton.

Gutted: Ashton

Gutted: Ashton

Ashton said: 'I had no idea about it. It was definitely a surprise to me but there has got to be some reason why he has left the club he has been at so long.

'I have not had the chance to speak to him so I don't really know the ins and outs of it but there has got to be some reason why he had to leave.'

Pastures new: Farrell

Pastures new: Farrell

When asked if he was disappointed, the 25-year-old said: 'Yes, but hopefully down the line somewhere I will still have contact with him and he will still help me with my game. I don't think he will be too far away.'

Farrell impressed during a temporary stint as England backs coach in this year's RBS 6 Nations.

Ashton, like Farrell a cross-code convert from Wigan, believes he made a difference to his game.

'I had never been under him until he came in at the Six Nations in which he was a massive help,' Ashton said.

was one of the reasons I decided to go to Saracens. When I saw him at
England, and he was coaching us here, it was more of a reason to go

'He is a very good motivator, he puts a lot of time and effort into his coaching and he goes through it thoroughly.

'Sometimes that is not the case but with him he puts the time in and the effort and that makes quite a difference.'

Andy Farrell set to join England coaching staff

Andy on board: Farrell quits Saracens and he'll fly to South Africa to watch his son



21:30 GMT, 1 June 2012

Andy Farrell will be at Kings Park in Durban next Saturday when England face South Africa but as a parent not as a coach, despite his shock resignation from Saracens clearing the way for a rapid return to the national management team.

The 37-year-old former Great Britain rugby league captain notified his club on Thursday night he would be stepping down from his post as head coach, just six weeks after rejecting a long-term role in Stuart Lancaster’s England hierarchy.

While the timing of his decision, which the club referred to as a ‘surprise’, prompted speculation he could be hastily summoned for the three-Test series against the Springboks, that scenario has been ruled out.

Reunited Andy Farrell (right) looks set to join Stuart Lancaster's England backroom staff

Reunited Andy Farrell (right) looks set to join Stuart Lancaster's England backroom staff

Instead, Farrell is due to travel to Durban late next week to watch his son, Owen, take part in the series opener. It is understood he also plans to attend the second Test in Johannesburg.

But RFU sources were at pains to say the cross-code international, who worked with Lancaster and Graham Rowntree during the Six Nations, will not be there in an official capacity as he has not been offered a contract.

In addition, the RFU are adamant no informal negotiations have taken place with Farrell since he turned down their rather laboured approach in April. The official line is he has simply had a personal, unprompted change of heart, yet the idea that he has quit a job he enjoyed without being sure of imminent employment elsewhere is distinctly far-fetched.

Sportsmail has learned the union planned to advertise a coaching position in an attempt to show the recruitment process would be an open one, but Farrell resigned knowing that the vacancy would have his name on it. In theory, Saracens could force him to serve a six-month notice period, but they have already installed Kevin Sorrell as a new backs coach and the reality is that club and governing body will resume talks over a financial settlement.

Practice: Thomas Waldrom in action during the England training session

Practice: Thomas Waldrom in action during the England training session

The RFU are likely to offer to pay no more than the 60,000 which would cover Farrell’s notice period.

Out in South Africa, Lancaster found his team’s first full day on tour hijacked by this dramatic development back at home.

He insisted neither he nor his employers have had any impact in Farrell’s change of heart, and any decision on him being recruited by England long-term would wait until after the series. ‘There’s been a bit of speculation back in England about Andy Farrell but I can say now he won’t be joining the coaching team out here in South Africa. I said when Mike (Catt) was appointed that we will look at the coaching team at the end of the tour and that will remain 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 about selection and matters to do with Saracens, but I am not sure what his situation is. As far as I know, there has been no contact whatsoever (between RFU and Farrell) — you would have to ask Andy about his decision.’

Listen up! Mike Catt, the England backs coach issues instructions

Listen up! Mike Catt, the England backs coach issues instructions

Such was Lancaster’s determination to retain Farrell’s services after the Six Nations, his appointment on a long-term basis is a mere formality, although the head coach remained cagy on that subject, adding: ‘Andy did a great job during the Six Nations and I rate him highly, but I’m not sure when he will be available. I’m pretty open-minded about the whole thing.’

Since Farrell said an initial ‘no’ to England, Lancaster made a bold pitch to lure ex-All Blacks coach Wayne Smith, only for the Kiwi to reject his offer too.

He turned to Catt as a new addition for the tour — with the incentive of being considered for a longer deal if he could impress in South Africa.

Now, Catt knows he is making his personal pitch without even knowing if a four-man coaching set-up will be deemed the best way forward.

‘I said all along that I would review the coaching team after the tour and part of that is assessing how it integrated, to see if it would be best to have three or four of us,’ Lancaster told Sky Sports News.

Jump!: Mouritz Botha of England catches the lineout ball during training

Jump!: Mouritz Botha of England catches the lineout ball during training

Catt himself added: ‘It is nothing for me to worry about. I have a Test series and midweek matches to prepare for. It is one of those things that happen — I’ve got a job to do and I will do it.’

Wasps’ lock-cum-flanker Joe Launchbury will fly home at the weekend after failing to recover from a knee injury sustained in training prior to England’s departure. He will be replaced by Jamie Gibson of London Irish.

Meanwhile, Gloucester are expected to announce that Nigel Davies will join them from the Scarlets as new head coach.

London Welsh are thought to have had an approach from Crystal Palace FC about the possibility of using a tenancy agreement at their Selhurst Park stadium. It would form part of the Championship winners’ challenge against the decision to deny them promotion to the Aviva Premiership.