Lancaster set for England interview
After the most public of auditions, Stuart Lancaster will be interviewed by the Rugby Football Union on Thursday for the full-time position of England head coach.
Lancaster, 42, took charge of the national team on an interim basis in the wake of England's disastrous World Cup and his performance in guiding the team to second in the RBS 6 Nations has received ringing endorsements from all corners of Twickenham.
The former PE teacher believes he has proven over the last three months that he has the qualities and the vision required to lead England to World Cup success in 2015, and he said: "I absolutely believe we can win the 2015 World Cup. I now have to convince the interview panel I am the right person for the job."
It is all a long way from the scenes at Heathrow Airport in October, when England skulked out of a back door with their reputation, according to forwards coach Graham Rowntree, in the "gutter" following the World Cup.
England captain Chris Robshaw has endorsed Lancaster's bid to keep the job on a permanent basis and Rowntree described his achievements in the interim role as the "perfect interview".
Lancaster's tireless efforts behind the scenes to build bridges with the rugby public and sponsors have been praised by commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt.
But the one man Lancaster must convince is Ian Ritchie, the RFU's chief executive whose recruitment process appeared to be aimed at bringing in an experienced head coach to lead England into their home World Cup in 2015.
Nick Mallett, the former South Africa and Italy coach who was first contacted by the RFU in December, is thought to be another leading contender and will also reportedly be interviewed this week.
John Kirwan, who has coached Italy and Japan at three World Cups, was told his application would not be advanced to the interview stage because he had no experience with a nation ranked in the world's top eight.