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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
England revamp coaching approach
By Phil Harlow

England head coach Andy Robinson and defence coach Mike Ford
I'm confident the coaching staff we've assembled can make a difference

England defence coach Mike Ford (right)
England have revamped training sessions and introduced a new player mentoring scheme under their new coaching set-up.

In a players' union survey, carried out before the changes, only 14% of players thought the standard of coaching was very good, with 39% calling it average.

But defence coach Mike Ford, who joined Andy Robinson's team along with Brian Ashton and John Wells, revealed changes were made on the tour of Australia.

"We want to take a more rounded view," Ford told BBC Sport.

"We want to get away from the idea of specific sessions, and don't want to be thinking in terms of contact sessions, attacking sessions and so on.

"If one team's attacking then the other is defending, so you can always coach - if Brian Ashton's working on attack, it doesn't mean I go for a cup of tea.

"We had to bring it all together in a short space of time for Australia and I thought we did that well.

"I was pretty comfortable with the structure and amount of time I got with the players. I'm confident the coaching staff we've assembled can make a difference."

I'll be clocking up the miles getting around all the clubs

Mike Ford
This season the new four-man coaching team will each take responsibility for nine or 10 players in the elite squad announced last week.

Ford and Ashton will look after the backs, while Wells and Robinson will be in charge of the forwards.

"I think it's a great idea," Ford added. "Throughout the season, we'll be communicating with them on a weekly basis and sitting down with them on a three or four-weekly basis.

"For instance, Charlie Hodgson is one of the guys I'm looking after but that doesn't mean Brian and Andy aren't going to be talking to him.

"But if Charlie's had a good game and I'm talking to him I might ask Brian if there's anything he wants me to pass on.

"I'll be clocking up the miles getting around all the clubs - I'm seeing Wasps and London Irish on Tuesday, trying to make sure we're all on the same wavelength.

"I also want to introduce myself to the directors of rugby at all the Premiership clubs. And with the Tri-Nations going on, there's lot of analysis work to be done as well."

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