Sinfield to step down from England rugby coaching role

rugby04 January 2024 14:44| © AFP
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Kevin Sinfield © Getty Images

Kevin Sinfield is to leave England's rugby coaching set-up after their tour of Japan and New Zealand later this year, head coach Steve Borthwick announced on Thursday.

Sinfield has been Borthwick's deputy since the former England captain took charge of the national side in December 2022 following the sacking of Eddie Jones.

The rugby league great, previously in charge of England's defence, will now have responsibility for individual skills and work with the squad's kickers.

"Kevin after the World Cup (in 2023) had a period of reflection, like every member of the management team did," said Borthwick.

"Ahead of the autumn series, Kev will not work with the team then, he will move away from the team and in a different direction."

Borthwick added: "Kev's role and what he's added as we've reset the team, you can't overstate the value he's brought, what he's done and the relationships he's built."

Sinfield was recognised in Britain's traditional New Year's Honours list for his work to raise awareness of motor neurone disease (MND) alongside former Leeds teammate Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2019.

England finished a lowly fourth with two wins in last year's Six Nations, Borthwick's first tournament as coach.

But, taking advantage of a favourable draw, they made it all the way to the semifinals of the World Cup in France.

They lost to eventual champions South Africa by a single point before defeating Argentina in the third-place playoff.

England also announced that New Zealand's Andrew Strawbridge would join their staff for the first few weeks of the Six Nations.

The 59-year-old former Chiefs boss, a skills consultant to the All Blacks side that were runners-up at the World Cup, will be a consultant for matches against Italy, Wales and Scotland in February.

England also face Ireland and France the following month.

"Andrew is another coach with a wealth of knowledge," said Borthwick, who has already added Felix Jones, fresh from helping South Africa win back-to-back World Cup titles, to his staff, where he will succeed Sinfield as England's defence chief.

England face Japan on 22 June, with tour dates for New Zealand yet to be announced.