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England coaches in frame for Lions

Steve BorthwickEngland will make Grand Slam coaches Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard available for the Lions in New Zealand next year.

Eddie Jones is understood to be ‘very keen’ for his lieutenants to be considered as candidates for key positions in the chain of management command for the ten-match tour.

The Lions’ selectors are in the throes of interviewing a trio of New Zealanders for the role of head coach – Joe Schmidt, Vern Cotter and Warren Gatland, still the favourite despite Wales’ capitulation to the All Blacks in Dunedin last month.

Gatland picked a pair of Englishmen among his three coaching assistants on the last Lions tour – Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell. Since losing their jobs after the post-World Cup collapse of Stuart Lancaster’s regime, each has moved to new jobs – Rowntree with Quins, Farrell with Ireland.

Farrell, part of the winning series in Australia as defence coach, will be a contender for the same role in New Zealand. He will face stiff competition from Gustard and Shaun Edwards whose passing over last time caused a temporary rift in his long-standing relationship with Gatland.

Borthwick will be a powerful contender for the role of forwards’ coach irrespective of which of the three Kiwis the Lions pick as head honcho.

Since joining Jones from Japan via Bristol last Christmas, he has presided over the resurgence of an England pack that has swept to nine straight wins.

As revealed in The Rugby Paper a fortnight ago, the Lions have accepted, however reluctantly, that Jones will not reconsider his decision to make himself unavailable on the premise that nothing can distract him from his ultimate goal.

“I signed a four-year contract to make England the best team in the world,’’ he said. “I’m going to spend every minute I have doing that.’’


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