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O’Sullivan wants to boss England as Henry says no

By Hugh Farrelly

Former Ireland and Lions coach Eddie O'Sullivan is interested in replacing Martin Johnson as England manager.

O'Sullivan announced last week he was standing down as United States head coach after their World Cup campaign, which included a victory over Russia and an impressive performance against Ireland.

The 53-year-old Corkman coached Ireland to three Triple Crowns during his six-year tenure from 2002. A member of the Lions coaching team in New Zealand in 2005, he had been on course to be head coach for the tour of South Africa in 2009 before a disappointing World Cup in 2007 proved fatal to his tenure as Ireland coach.

John Baker, the Irishman's agent, confirmed last night that O'Sullivan would be interested in coaching England either short- or long-term, joining Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder and former Australia coach Eddie Jones on the list of those who have publicly put themselves forward for the job.

“Eddie is definitely interested in the England job,” Baker said. “The England job is one of the most high-profile positions in world rugby and they are a side with tremendous potential.

“Eddie's big advantage is that he has tremendous experience of the Six Nations and a fantastic track record in that competition.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry yesterday ruled out the possibility of working with England and declared: “It is time to move on.”

Henry, who admitted he was surprised Johnson had stood down as England manager, confirmed he has “no desire to coach a team” after 140 Tests in charge of Wales, the Lions and the All Blacks.

Henry wants to keep his hand in the sport but he is looking for an advisory role with a Heineken Cup team and does not see himself involved in Test rugby again.

“I am contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union until the end of March. I have no desire to coach a team,” Henry said.

“I have done 140 Tests and that is probably enough. I have been very privileged. I just think it is time to move on (from Test rugby).

“You never say never but my desire is to live in New Zealand predominantly.

“If there is someone who wants me in this part of the world as an advisor, perhaps a Heineken Cup team, I would be interested in looking at that.

“That interests me and I like what I see in that competition.”

When asked what he would say if the RFU asked him to name his price, Henry added: “I have got enough problems. I need some recovery time.”

Henry, who is in London to coach the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, said his chances of being involved in Test rugby this time next year were “zero out of 10”.

Four years ago, Henry was retained by the NZRU following a four month review into the All Blacks' quarter-final exit at the 2007 World Cup.

Henry believes unions often act too quickly and he feels continuity at the top is vital to the success of any international team.

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