Steve Borthwick will start his England squad makeover this week by reshuffling the management team he inherited from the now-departed Eddie Jones.
Borthwick has already recruited Kevin Sinfield as his right-hand man and defense coach and appears likely to retain Richard Cockerill as forwards coach, but the new head coach is looking beyond Leicester for potential new ways to sharpening his team’s attacking edge.
The change of the Twickenham guard may well result in England’s current scrum coach Matt Proudfoot and the newly arrived Brett Hodgson moving on, with the future of the backs coach Martin Gleeson also uncertain. England’s try-scoring record against the leading nations has declined this year and Borthwick has just over six weeks before the 2023 Six Nations kicks off in which to locate a solution.
The Rugby Football Union has confirmed that discussions about the precise makeup of Borthwick’s backroom team are already ongoing, with the head coach having indicated his desire to assemble a long-term coaching group “with growth in us”. He has also suggested Leicester would not be his only recruitment source as England seek to ask more questions of their opponents before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Borthwick has a particularly interesting judgment call to make in terms of his attack coach. Of the prominent attack specialists around the world, New Zealand’s Wayne Smith has retired while Tony Brown (Japan), Mike Catt (Ireland) and Scott Wisemantel (Australia) are committed elsewhere until at least the end of the World Cup next year. The former Fiji Olympics-winning sevens coach Ben Ryan is now working in football and Borthwick seems unlikely to revert to Simon Amor or Rory Teague, both employed by England in the Jones era.
Northampton’s Sam Vesty is a strong homegrown candidate but the name at the top of England’s wish list should be the highly regarded Nick Evans, the former All Blacks fly‑half now coaching at Harlequins. Not only does Evans have a good working relationship with Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt and others at Quins but he also has top-level Test experience, has been living in England for almost 15 years and is employed across the road from Twickenham. The only issue from the RFU’s perspective is the 42-year-old Evans signed a contract extension with Quins 10 months ago.
World Rugby, meanwhile, has expressed its sadness at the death of the former Ivory Coast international, Max Brito, at the age of 54. Brito was left paralysed from the neck down after being hurt in the third minute of his side’s World Cup pool game against Tonga in Rustenburg, South Africa in 1995.