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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nick Purewal

New England head coach Steve Borthwick hails Kevin Sinfield appointment as ‘the first step’ of a ‘new era’

Appointed: Steve Borthwick

(Picture: Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has hailed right-hand man Kevin Sinfield as the shining example of what Bill Sweeney branded England’s “new era”.

Borthwick took the helm as England’s new head coach on Monday, replacing the sacked Eddie Jones.

The former England captain has taken close confidante Sinfield with him from Leicester to England, with the Rugby League great installed as defence coach.

Borthwick will now have RFU backing to reshape England’s backroom staff, with Jones’ stable of assistants’ futures still on the line.

Sinfield’s status as defence coach leaves a bleak outlook for Brett Hodgson, who is only due to start his assistant coaching role officially in next year’s Six Nations.

Hodgson shadowed departing defence specialist Anthony Seibold in the autumn series that cost Jones his job, where England ended 2022 with just five wins from 12 Test matches.

“He’s a quality individual both on and off the field,” said Borthwick, of Sinfield. “I’m delighted Kevin has joined us, that’s the first step.

“In any of the best teams I have played in and coached, you have a team where the players work so hard for each other.

“It’s never perfect, they cover for each other, help each other, celebrate with each other and lift each other up when they get knocked down. They’re so tight.

“If there’s a person that embodies that ethos, it’s Kevin Sinfield. He’s the type of person you want in your environment.“Now, Kevin is a top- quality coach, incredible coach – but I think he’s an even better human being.”

RFU chief executive officer Bill Sweeney England men’s head coach Steve Borthwick and RFU chairman Tom Ilube. (PA)

Sinfield attended the memorial service for ex-Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir on Monday, missing Borthwick’s big Twickenham unveiling.

Sinfield making the trip to Scotland in Weir’s name can only be seen as typical of the dedicated charity fundraiser’s fiercely loyal attitude, especially in sticking to the side of best friend Rob Burrow, another former rugby star suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.

England have 47 days before hosting Scotland at Twickenham to launch their 2023 Six Nations campaign.

RFU chief executive Sweeney branded Borthwick’s appointment a “new era for England rugby”, but there is no time to waste in building towards next year’s World Cup.

“If you look at the autumn series, I don’t think England are ranked in the top three in any one particular facet of the game, so there are plenty of things to work on and get right,” said Borthwick.

“You have to be brilliant at the basics. We have a lot of work to do, but first and foremost we have to be brilliant at the basics come that first game in 47 days’ time.”

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