Paul Gustard to join England coaching staff ahead of Six Nations
Last Updated: 18/12/15 8:04am
Paul Gustard has agreed to join England's coaching staff as defence coach from Saracens.
Gustard, who combined the roles of forwards and defence coach at the Aviva Premiership side, will join up with the squad ahead of the 2016 Six Nations after Saracens' rugby director Mark McCall expressed a desire to keep him at the club until the end of January.
The 39-year-old, who had been with Saracens since 2008, previously spent two seasons at the north London club as a player. He has also helped coach England on the tour to Argentina in 2013 when Andy Farrell was with the British and Irish Lions.
Gustard said: "To be given the chance with England is hugely humbling and I am thrilled to be involved.
"I would like to thank Saracens for allowing me to leave and take up this opportunity. I hope that experience will stand me in good stead for this next challenge.
"This has been a difficult decision to make, but to coach England is an opportunity you just don't turn down. I have enjoyed 10 wonderful years at Saracens, both as a player and as a coach.
"It's been an incredible journey. I have made some amazing memories as part of such a special group, but there is a very exciting opportunity ahead for me that I'm really looking forward to.
"My focus now is the next six weeks by helping this brilliant playing and coaching group prepare for some important games."
England head coach Eddie Jones, whose bid to add former national skipper Steve Borthwick to his backroom staff has stalled while Bristol seek compensation, is delighted to have Gustard on board.
"An important part of England going forward is to make sure we keep the traditional and fundamental bits of English rugby in place and that has always been a strong set piece and a very aggressive defence," said the Australian.
"He has overseen Saracens growth as a team. He has produced an aggressive defence system there and we are hoping he can do the same for England."
Prior to moving into coaching, Gustard enjoyed an 11-year professional career as a flanker, playing in 173 Premiership games for Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Saracens.
He also played at every representative level for England, although remained uncapped for the senior side.
"We are all delighted that Paul's ability as a coach is being recognised at the highest level in the game," said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
"Paul is the consummate professional and I'm certain he will be a success with England when he takes up his role in the new year.
"During his time at the Saracens his contribution to transforming the club has been huge.
"Although it is always sad to see a man of his talent and integrity leave the club, his energy and vitality, his 'unique' sense of humour and close connections with the playing group and staff has contributed massively to our success at the club.
"We now have a huge six weeks ahead of which Paul will have a big part to play."