FORMER Wakefield RFC player Stuart Lancaster is set to be appointed permanent England boss following a sensational RBS Six Nations campaign.
The RFU has completed its interview process for the job and Lancaster, 42, is expected to be named new head coach at a press conference later today, Thursday.
Lancaster was handed the interim role at the helm of English rugby in December but completely overhauled the squad that had underachieved so spectacularly at last year’s World Cup in New Zealand and guided his young, new-look team to the brink of a successful Six Nations defence.
No fewer than 15 changes were made when Lancaster announced his Six Nations squad at West Park Leeds RFC in January, with nine debutants ready to make their bow in an England shirt.
And since then, the likes of Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Lee Dickson, Phil Dowson and Ben Morgan have gone on to shine under Lancaster’s leadership, which has injected new verve and positivity into the England team.
A gritty, if rather fortunate, win in Scotland was followed by a similarly gutsy come-back success in Rome.
A narrow home defeat to Wales proved to be the only set-back for Lancaster’s young team as they recovered with a superb victory in Paris and a demolition job over Ireland at Twickenham.
That form transformed Lancaster from caretaker to favourite for the permanent job, despite competition for the job from the likes of former Italy and South Africa boss Nick Mallett.
Earlier this month, the former Kettlethorpe High School PE teacher told the Wakefield Express: “I want to build a team that works hard to represent team-mates, represent family and friends and represent England.
“I think the supporters are connected with the team and you can see that the players are playing for them.”
He added: “A lot of people were disappointed how the World Cup went and I wanted to try and make sure that the public could see the team had good values.
“It has always been my plan to build for the long-term future. We have chosen to go through the cycle [of introducing new players] early but we now have three years that will set us up for the next World Cup.”
Lancaster is delighted but not surprised by the level of success he has achieved, saying: “During my time with Saxons I quickly put together teams and gave them a reason to work hard. I knew it was possible to do it [with the England senior squad].
“The scale is larger and there is more scrutiny but I was confident in my ability.”
He added: “The players have connected with the coaching team and the strength of any squad is measured by that connection.”
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more on this story and the latest sports news.