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Steve Borthwick tipped to make Joe Launchbury England's lineout lieutenant

Published 03/02/2016

Steve Borthwick, pictured, has been backed to lift England's set-piece approach to new heights
Steve Borthwick, pictured, has been backed to lift England's set-piece approach to new heights

Steve Borthwick will take Joe Launchbury under his wing to turn the England lock into one of the world's premier lineout bosses, according to David Flatman.

Borthwick's former Bath team-mate Flatman has backed Eddie Jones' right-hand man to be "the best-prepared forwards coach in the world".

Flatman tipped Borthwick to mentor Launchbury and pass on the tricks of the trade that helped him dominate the set-piece across his own nine-year, 57-cap England career.

Borthwick was famed for poring over laptops late into the night studying lineouts in his playing career - and now aims to instil that same zeal in England's next generation.

"England could have picked anyone in the world for that job bar maybe the five top Test coaches, but they chose Steve Borthwick," Flatman told Press Association Sport, of England's new forwards coach.

"It probably wouldn't have come about had Steve and Eddie Jones not worked together with Japan, but it's a huge endorsement of Steve's abilities.

"They wouldn't ever find anyone as well-prepared as Borthers though.

"He'll be the best prepared forwards coach in the world, I don't care who else is coaching.

"I'd imagine he'll make Joe Launchbury his lieutenant on the pitch.

"Joe is young, intelligent, modest - just Borthers' cup of tea.

"They'll spend a lot of time in each others' company - whether Launchbury wants to or not!

"And Steve can help him take his game to the next level.

"Consciously or unconsciously Steve will make a pet of Joe, and that will be that - they will be looking at laptop screens together for the rest of their working relationship.

"But that will just make England get better and better. Steve has spent his entire career making everyone around him better.

"Even as Steve's mate and contemporary, having played together for years, I was still trying to live up to his expectations in the lineout during my career.

"Hopefully he will achieve that sort of status with England.

"If England get anywhere near his standard they'll be very, very good."

Prop Flatman won eight England caps in a top-level career spanning 14 years, much of which was spent working in tandem with lock Borthwick.

Former Australia boss Eddie Jones and Borthwick coached Japan to the shock 34-32 World Cup win over South Africa, before quickly reuniting with England.

Flatman admitted he would love to be a fly on the wall for one of Jones' famed team talks, or one of his equally-renowned take-downs.

Jones is rumoured to hold nothing back in stinging critiques of his players, but balances out the brutal honesty with razor-sharp wit.

"He's got that glint in his eye, it would be great fun to get access to a few team meetings," said Flatman, part of Accenture's analysis team for the Six Nations.

"He's ferociously hard-working, very intelligent, and absolutely does what he wants. And I like that.

"He's not trying to be everyone's best friend, he's trying to win.

"If he's as brutal and as funny as everyone says, it would be great to experience - unless it's you he's hammering!

"He's fried bigger fish than this before, so he won't be worried about dressing down a senior player versus a young player.

"Eddie's also meant to be a brilliant orator, and he's shown time and again what a fine coach he is.

"Japan were very well-drilled, that's one thing. But being well-drilled and well-coached are two different things.

"When opportunities came, they took them, and that's not about being drilled, that's coaching.

"They were practised in decision-making under huge pressure, more pressure than ever before and they came up with the goods time after time.

"They were made cleverer by a clever man, and hopefully the same thing happens to England."

:: David Flatman is part of the Accenture Analysis Team during the RBS 6 Nations, providing fans with insight and analysis to #seebeyond standard match data. Follow @AccentureRugby or visit

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