The first was developing a culture in which everyone wanted to be part of the
England squad. He wanted everyone to feel included, even those not involved
in the team, and reminded us all of the honour and privilege of representing
your country by involving family and friends. Our supporters and media are
so important, too.
He told us that we were a massive rugby nation and if we could the nation
behind us then we could become a unstoppable force.
The second key thing that impressed me was that he wasn’t afraid to make the
big decisions, such as clearing out a lot of the old players and including
the young guns and giving them a chance to shine.
It just showed he is willing to try thing and take risks. It is important as a
coach not just to go steady and pick players on past performances.
We know we have to play well week in, week out for your club and country
otherwise we are in danger of being replaced. It keeps you on your toes and
it is quite refreshing for the coach to be so open about the reasons behind
My final point about Stuart’s impact is that he has implemented a “no fear”
policy. We had never lost the joy of playing for England by the end of the
World Cup in New Zealand but Stuart gave us a little more freedom during the
We know that if we try things on the field and get it wrong, we can just shake
it off and try it again. He wants us to play rugby and play what is in front
For someone like me in the back three, I want to try things and I feel I am a
good enough rugby player to make the right decisions but it is good to know
you will not be destroyed if you get it wrong. He backs you as a player.
Stuart’s next step is to put in place his coaching team and I hope Andy
Farrell will be part of it. A lot of the boys really enjoyed the way Andy
coached and his understanding of the game, having played himself at the
highest level in both codes.
He gets the boys fired up as well before games and he brought a massive amount
to the camp. He worked really well with Graham Rowntree and, as a trio, they
were a great combination.
When Stuart first addressed us, he told us he wanted the job full-time and he
wanted to build a team that would go out and win a World Cup in England.
That journey has started. It is tremendously exciting to be part of it.
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