Kevin Sinfield ‘to leave England’ after Rugby World Cup as replacement picked

Lawes reviews England’s Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to South Africa

England defence coach Kevin Sinfield is reportedly set to leave his role after the Rugby World Cup less than a year on from his appointment by the RFU. The rugby league icon followed Steve Borthwick to England last December after excelling in his first season as a coach at Leicester Tigers.

Sinfield has been hailed as an expert motivator by several England players but has lacked the necessary experience to make a significant impact on the international stage. He is expected to leave the England setup after this weekend’s bronze medal match against Argentina, according to The Telegraph, just 10 months after being drafted in alongside Borthwick.

It is said that Paul Gustard, the former England defence coach, has been approached over the possibility of returning ahead of next year’s Six Nations campaign. The 47-year-old previously worked under Eddie Jones but turned down the chance to go to the Rugby World Cup four years ago in order to take over as head coach of Harlequins.

Gustard worked closely with Borthwick during his time at Saracens and has reportedly been sounded out by the England boss for preliminary talks over the last few weeks. He is renowned for his unorthodox style of coaching, which saw him bring actual wolves into training at Sarries during his spell there.

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He later installed a lifesize model of a bear in Harlequins’ team room, while replacements during his time at the Premiership club were referred to as ‘gamechangers’. His time at Twickenham Stoop came to an end in 2021 before he joined French side Stade Francais, where he remains to this day as their forwards coach.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the future will hold for Sinfield when his departure from the England setup is confirmed in due course. The team’s defensive statistics have gradually improved throughout his spell as defence coach, although it seems clear that Borthwick is looking to go in a different direction as the dust settles on their Rugby World Cup semi-final exit.

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England full-back Freddie Steward recently credited Sinfield with driving up the standards after delivering a brutal team talk following their defeat to Fiji at Twickenham earlier this year. He said: “We got a bit of a rocket after that game. There were no complaints about that, it needed to happen.

“We had a very thorough review, which we needed, and I think we reaped the benefits. It was necessary for that to happen. That’s what makes Kev such a good defence coach, he’s so inspiring. He motivates us so much and he’s the sort of bloke you don’t want to let down. That’s testament to him as a bloke.

“When you go out there, part of it is you do it for him. You don’t want to see a guy like that who puts his heart and soul into us in his work with his defence feeling let down.”

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