Lancaster lauded for improvements

Herald Series: Stuart Lancaster Stuart Lancaster

England's interim coach Stuart Lancaster has been hailed for dragging the national team "out of the gutter" during the RBS 6 Nations.

Lancaster, who took the reins in the wake of England's disastrous World Cup campaign, is expected to be interviewed for the full-time position later this week.

"Stuart has dragged us out of the gutter," said forwards coach Graham Rowntree. "We failed (at the World Cup) and the whole leaked reports business was messy. That was only a few weeks ago but we've come a long way."

The Rugby Football Union are thought to also have the former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett on their shortlist.

Lancaster's bid for the job has been fully endorsed by Rowntree, who said the environment he had created in the England squad was better than he had ever known.

England finished second in the championship and succeeded in restoring a sense of national pride in the team.

Rowntree added: "My over-riding feeling is of pride - but there's a load more to come from this group of players and I'm dying to work with them again.

"I don't want anything to change. You can't argue with what he's done, performance-wise and culturally with this group.

"On Saturday night after the official dinner we went back to the hotel and a cracking night but it was tinged with sadness because we felt emotionally the journey was coming to an end.

"I have never felt that before. I have always been ready for home. The players have created that environment on the back of Stuart's culture. It was the best I've know as a player and coach - better than Lions because of the place we were in beforehand."

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