England: Kevin Sinfield tasked with challenging Steve Borthwick

England assistant coach Kevin Sinfield says he will challenge Steve Borthwick if it is for the team’s betterment. England boss Borthwick brought Sinfield along with him when making the move into the Test job and has tasked his number two, who won the Premiership with him at Leicester Tigers, to challenge and question him over his decisions. Credit: Alamy
England assistant coach Kevin Sinfield says he will challenge Steve Borthwick if it is for the team’s betterment. England boss Borthwick brought Sinfield along with him when making the move into the Test job and has tasked his number two, who won the Premiership with him at Leicester Tigers, to challenge and question him over his decisions. Credit: Alamy

England assistant coach Kevin Sinfield has insisted he will challenge head coach Steve Borthwick if it is for the team’s betterment.

England boss Borthwick brought Sinfield along with him when making the move into the Test job and has tasked his number two, who won the Premiership with him at Leicester Tigers, to challenge and question him over his decisions.

Openly asked to challenge him

“My job is not to sit here and say ‘yes’ and nod my head. My job is to ensure that the team is in the best possible place,” Sinfield explained.

“If that means I ask a question for the betterment of the team, Steve’s firmly behind that and wants me to do it. He’s openly asked me to challenge him. I do that respectfully.”

Sinfield is only a year and a half into his rugby union coaching career after his league career that saw him captain Great Britain, and while he is still adjusting to the switch, he has been given the room to develop by Borthwick.

“Steve is a very trusting guy, and I am too, but my gut feel at the start was that he was a guy who I really wanted to do my best for,” the 42-year-old said.

“I felt like he would support me when things got tough, which is when you really need people. I felt like that with him; I had that right from the start.

“He knew that I would have some flaws and would make some mistakes and get loads wrong.

“At first, I was probably a little bit more thought through because it took me longer than it does now to translate stuff.

“I do think like a union coach, I do, but there remain some elements that are ingrained in me that I’m switching across.

“There are some bits that may be different – not better or worse, just different – and so my suggestions can be a little bit different at times.

“But I always felt like Steve would support me through that and help me out. He’s been incredible, a really good model.”

A fresh start

The change of guard in the coaching box means that the players get a fresh start under the new management, and Sinfield revealed that Borthwick was keen to drive this point home.

“Steve made a really strong point to the players that, while performances will dictate, everybody who is eligible to play for England will come into consideration,” Sinfield said.

England kick their Six Nations campaign off against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup on February 4. 

READ MORE: Eddie Jones backs ‘outstanding’ Steve Borthwick to succeed as his successor

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