Steve Borthwick’s leading assistant coach Kevin Sinfield will step away from the England set-up after the World Cup bronze medalists’ summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.
Sinfield, 43, has worked alongside Borthwick since joining as his defence coach at Leicester Tigers at the start of the 2021/22 season, one where the club went on to be crowned Premiership champions.
The rugby league legend then joined Borthwick in the England set-up, and oversaw a major defensive improvement as England went from conceding an average of 3.6 tries per game at the 2023 Six Nations to just 1.2 tries per game at the World Cup later that year.
“Kev made the decision over what he wanted to do,” Borthwick said. “At the end of the World Cup, there was space for every member of the management to reflect as we look ahead to the next World Cup cycle.
“After a big tournament like the World Cup, every member of the management team needed the opportunity to relax, decompress, reflect and spend some time with friends and family. A couple of weeks later, Kev and I met and he gave me his decision. Kev’s decided that longer-term he’s going to head in a different direction away from the England rugby team.”
“I’m just grateful that’s he added so much value over these 12 months and that he’s going to stay with the team for the Six Nations and the summer tour. 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.
“I’ve changed his role to skills and he will be working specifically on catch-pass skills with the kickers and goalkickers, which he does so very well.”
Former Ireland international Felix Jones will take charge of the defence after being recruited from South Africa, with the 36-year-old having contributed to their triumphant back-to-back World Cup campaigns.
Sinfield will oversee skills and kicking before he departs in July, with Andrew Strawbridge coming in from New Zealand as a consultant for the first four weeks of the Six Nations.
“If you look at our coaching team now, you’ve got a lot of knowledge of the Premiership, people who coached in the Premiership less than 12 months ago,” Borthwick added.
“Richard Wigglesworth was playing in the Premiership just over a year ago. We’ve got a lot of knowledge of the Premiership and of European rugby.
“Felix has knowledge of the Irish system and the South African system. Andrew joining is brings us the knowledge he has of New Zealand and Super Rugby.
“That’s an exciting blend of coaches and knowledge that we’ve brought together.”
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