Six Nations: England coach Stuart Lancaster will ignore his critics

Stuart Lancaster
Lancaster has discarded several members of England's World Cup squad

Stuart Lancaster will ignore his critics in the build-up to England's Six Nations opener against Scotland.

England's interim coach has come under scrutiny for his lack of experience, with former England coach Sir Clive Woodward suggesting he is "lucky" to have the job.

But Lancaster countered: "There's a lot of people giving me advice.

"Fortunately, I'm confident in my own coaching philosophy to believe in the way I think things should be done."

Lancaster also played down comments from Scotland coach Andy Robinson that England had behaved arrogantly during their World Cup pool clash in Auckland last October.

"I can't comment about what people have said in the past or what people's perceptions were, but this is a new team and any team I have coached, I would be disappointed if people termed us as arrogant," he said.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the opinions that really matter to me are those of the players, the leadership group, the management team and the people that surround the team.

"We want to be known as a humble, hard-working, honest team who graft and get on with the job and represent England with pride.

"The power of the nation behind you is a terrific force and we want to make sure the spectators feel excited about coming to watch and feel connected to us."

England begin the defence of their Six Nations crown against Scotland at Murrayfield on 4 February.

It will be Lancaster's first match in charge of the senior side, but the former Leeds and Saxons coach is already looking longer term.

He was appointed in a temporary capacity following Martin Johnson's decision to quit in the wake of a disappointing World Cup campaign but says he intends to apply for the job on a full-time basis.

"It is a good job and I am sure there will be a lot of interest worldwide and within England as well," he said. "I haven't applied yet but I will apply before 15 February.

"I knew this process was going to happen before I took the job so it is not something I haven't been expecting.

"But the priority for me is not Stuart Lancaster and his individual position. It is about getting a cohesive team ready to play hard for each other and for England."

Lancaster thinks he can make an immediate impression despite his lack of time in the role.

"To date, I think 90% of the players [in the squad] I have coached before," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"There are very few I haven't - probably Dylan Hartley, Tom Croft, Ben Foden, Toby Flood, but not many others. Hopefully for them, there's a sense of familiarity with me, my methods and the way I do things."

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Lancaster seeks new culture

He added he was coping with the weight of expectation now on him.

"I feel the pressure in the sense that we are in camp now and I want to make sure we do the things we have talked about doing," he said.

"We want to get a strong culture, we want to to get a leadership group operating and formed, we want to get on the same page from a tactical and technical point of view.

"There's pressure but it's good pressure. Building teams is what I enjoy."

Lancaster revealed he expected to name his new captain on Monday and has compiled a list of contenders, but stresses he will review the post on a match-by-match basis.

Lancaster has previously identified Hartley, Chris Robshaw, Croft, Foden, Ben Youngs, Flood and Tom Wood as the senior players he expects to emerge as a potential captain.

"For me, teams are borne out of great leaders not one great leader, so the priority for me at the start of the week has been to grow six, seven or eight players and give them responsibility, empower them and let them grow," he said.

"It's matter of me looking at the group and seeing by the end of the week where the natural leader is going to emerge from.

"The leadership model I believe in is that the captain comes out of the leadership group but doesn't sit way above it as an iconic figure because if that person is unavailable then you have a void.

"Will we appoint for the Six Nations and through to South Africa and beyond? I don't think you can do that.

"I don't think selection or injury allows you to do that. It is not a bad thing to have two or three people who can captain the side."

Fly-half Flood and flanker Wood, along with centre Manu Tuilagi and lock Courtney Lawes, will all miss the Scotland match through injury, leaving Northampton skipper Hartley or Harlequins counterpart Robshaw in pole position to lead England.

Lancaster met his new-look squad, which contains nine uncapped players, for the first time at their Leeds training base on Monday.

He brushed off any concerns about Chris Ashton's state of mind after the acrimonious manner in which his move from Northampton to Saracens was confirmed last week.

"I spent 15 minutes with every player and I had an extended chat with Chris," Lancaster added. "I think he is a great player and in the camp he has been fantastic. He has been enthusiastic and positive, is desperate to do well and desperate to be in the team."

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