Coaching shake-up on England horizon after World Cup disappointment as uncertainty grows over Farrell’s captaincy
Kevin Sinfield will step down as Steve Borthwick’s England number two after the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.
Sinfield has overseen the defence since his appointment by Borthwick in December 2022, but after the recent World Cup in France in which they were eliminated in the semi-finals by South Africa, the former Leeds rugby league great has decided to move on.
The 43-year-old will remain in place for the Six Nations and the three Tests arranged for June and July, but in a new role overseeing skills and kicking with the incoming Felix Jones taking charge of the defence.
Borthwick declined to disclose any details over Sinfield’s future plans in the first backroom reshuffle of his year-long reign.
“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.
“Ahead of the autumn series, Kev will not work with the team then, he will move away from the team and in a different direction.”
Sinfield has been busy undertaking remarkable fund-raising feats for research into Motor Neurone Disease, having just been made a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list for his laudable efforts.
“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,” said Borthwick.
“You can’t overstate the value he’s brought, what he’s done and the relationships he’s built.”
Meanwhile, Owen Farrell’s future with England remains uncertain after Borthwick revealed he has been given no indication by his captain that he plans to return.
Farrell will miss at least the Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being following the World Cup, during which the Saracens five-eighth was repeatedly booed by supporters at games.
There remains the possibility that the bronze final victory over Argentina in November could have been the 32-year-old’s final Test for England, burt when asked if Farrell will play for his country again, Borthwick replied: “I’m really hopeful he does – but that’s going to be a decision he makes.”