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Steve Borthwick gets backing for England job from Premiership rival

By Chris Jones
Steve Borthwick has a word with Sale Sharks' director of rugby Alex Sanderson (Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson is backing Steve Borthwick to replace Eddie Jones as England head coach and is convinced he has “earned his stripes” for the top job in English rugby.

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Sanderson worked with Borthwick as a player at Saracens and also coached under Scott Robertson the other leading candidate to take over from Jones when he spent a period with the Crusaders in New Zealand.

Sanderson said: “I don’t think any can dispute that Steve has got the mental tools or the experience after his journey with Eddie with Japan and then England and winning the Premiership with Leicester. He has earned his stripes. Has he got the coaching tools and mental resilience to handle and cope with a job of that pressure? I believe he has. I guess it is going to be between Steve and Scott Robertson. I would like to see it go to an Englishman but I spent some time out with the Crusaders and Scott is a coach I would like to emulate.

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“It is one of the biggest if not the biggest jobs in world rugby and maybe in the past there has been a degree of popularity – who is the most popular in the public’s perception and it should be deeper than that.

“Many of the candidates like Ronan O’Gara who is staying, Warren Gatland who has gone to Wales, Scott who could be in the running and Steve could all do a decent job. That is why they are international candidates.”

Sanderson revealed he has been involved in the RFU’s succession planning under Nigel Redman, the former England lock, who has been tasked with identifying future England coaches. He explained: “They (RFU) have never done a more thorough investigation in what a head coach requires.

“There has been a 16 strong stakeholder team gathering information through Nigel Redman over the last two seasons or so. It was to gather information with real depth and I met Nigel twice and had some long and deep conversations with a sports psychologist and I have been privy to what the prerequisites are down the line.

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“It is the opinion of people at every level along with algorithms about win ratios etc. that has gone into the mix to determine what the best fit looks like. Then it is getting the right man. Whoever they decide it will have been a very thorough process.

“Any one of the candidates could do a good job as could Eddie. To some degree there has been a loss of faith due to recent results but that for me doesn’t tar his consistency over the last seven years.“

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