Richard Cockerill could join England set-up, says Jones

January 4, 2017

England's head coach Eddie Jones has said sacked director of rugby at Leicester Tigers Richard Cockerill might end up joining the national team's coaching staff.

The dismissal of Cockerill after the New Year's Day defeat by Saracens has been one of the big rugby stories of the season, with the 46-year-old having been at the club as a player in a long and distinguished career before moving into coaching. During his time in charge, Leicester won three premiership titles, were runners up in the European Cup in his first season and won the LV= Cup in 2012.

However, recent results have been poor and with the club in fifth place, 15 points behind leaders Wasps, the club's hierarchy decided it was time for a change after eight years. Cockerill, who has spent 23 of the last 25 years of his career at the club, remarked: "It is with great sadness and regret that I leave my position. I still believe that I am the right person to lead the team."

Speaking to BBC Sport, Jones sympathised with Cockerill and hinted that he could find a place for him in the national set-up, even though the role of forwards coach is being fulfilled by Steve Borthwick.

The Australian commented: "The reality of being a coach is that everyone goes through that [being sacked] and I am sure he will end up somewhere else.

"It has been a discussion point for the Leicester players. They are disappointed for Richard but know they have to get on with the job.

"We are very well-endowed with the forwards coaches we have at the moment so we can always look at the possibility of that [getting Cockerill]."

Fans booking corporate hospitality for England's opening Six Nations game against France at Twickenham next month may be excited at the thought of what impact Cockerill could have, although the current staff have been enjoying extraordinary success after England won every match they played in 2016.  

With the pre-tournament training camp looming, the Cockerill issue was not the only thing on Jones's mind. He also discussed the situation with Dylan Hartley, who he confirmed will still be captain in the Six Nations despite currently being suspended after a third red card of the season. The coach said he will go through an "unbelievably stringent" fitness test to ensure he is ready, but as Hartley will be eligible to play from January 23rd, he will have some match time under his belt before he leads out the national side.  

On the injury front, Jones said it has been "enormously frustrating" for Manu Tuilagi to miss out on the training camp after he suffered a knee injury with Leicester at the weekend, while Chris Robshaw's involvement is in doubt as he awaits a scan on a shoulder injury picked up on New Year's Day. However, Jones said it was a "big relief" that James Haskell is back after the toe injury that prevented him playing in the Old Mutual Autumn Internationals.

England's Six Nations campaign also includes matches at Twickenham against Italy on February 26th and Scotland on March 11th.

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