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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
England switch emphasis to attack
By Simon Austin

Brian Ashton (left) and Iain Balshaw
Brian Ashton talks to Iain Balshaw during training in Australia
England have changed their focus from defence to attack following their poor Six Nations campaign, says the chairman of the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU appointed a new England coaching team last month, with Brian Ashton responsible for the attack.

"We have concentrated on defence for so long, now there's a shift in emphasis," Martyn Thomas told BBC Sport.

"We were determined to get the best attack coach available and have done so. Everyone is very excited."

Thomas admits, though, that defence was crucial in England's 2003 World Cup success and that England led the world in that area.

"The Premier clubs did not have defensive coaches in those days and Clive Woodward broke new ground (by bringing in Phil Larder in 1997)," Thomas said.

Those players who worked with Mike Ford on the Lions tour are thrilled he's involved with England

Martyn Thomas
RFU chairman

"Now the Premiership, and world rugby, is full of defensive coaches."

Forwards coach John Wells and defence coach Mike Ford were also brought in as part of last month's shake-up.

Thomas insisted England's new coaching team, who are currently in Australia ahead of Sunday's first Test against the Wallabies, had been well received by both the players and head coach Andy Robinson.

Thomas said: "It's a really exciting coaching team and Andy's chuffed. The feedback from the players has been very positive as well.

"Brian deservedly gets a lot of mention, but those players who worked with Mike Ford on the Lions tour are absolutely thrilled he's now involved with England.

"The new team has been seen as very positive. The only thing we were criticised for was the length of time it took to make the appointments. But time was not of the essence."

And Thomas said Robinson was working effectively with Wells, despite having to hand over responsibility for coaching the forwards to him.

"Andy is very, very positive. He and John Wells have had some sessions together and it's worked very well.

"These guys are professional. Andy respects John and John respects Andy. The whole team has one aim - to win the World Cup."

Varndell wins England start spot
07 Jun 06 |  Internationals
Ashton eyes England improvement
28 May 06 |  Internationals
Ashton named England attack coach
25 May 06 |  Internationals

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