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The Iron Curtain: My Rugby Journey from League to Union

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The No 12 position has been a bone of contention since Will Greenwood retired more than a decade ago, and Larder agrees that it’s fundamental to how Jones’s England will operate. Sinfield had a stint in rugby union playing for Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of his playing career but has never coached in the 15-a-side game. And it was also their characters; both very tough guys with the ability to get respect from those around them. I read somewhere that Owen Farrell seems to have the same skills. It’s just something that some people have. I think it’s more innate than learned.”

One of the big things I wrote down in my notepad [in 2018] was just the way Owen spoke; he gave great clarity to the players in the room.” Former Great Britain coach Phil Larder is returning to rugby league with Keighley at the age of 74. Rugby league coaches landing jobs in union, usually to look after defence, is far from unusual – think Shaun Edwards (whose star has never aligned with England’s), Phil Larder (Woodward’s World Cup-winning assistant), Dave Ellis, Andy Farrell, Mike Ford, Les Kiss and Denis Betts. You’ve also got to know yourself; how you react to pressure; how you react if the defence doesn’t work well or how you react to players that are a bit difficult and you’ve got to be able to control your own feelings,” Larder explains. “You’re not necessarily always smiling, but making sure there’s always a positive aura about you.” Gatland: 'Wiganers are a bit mad'

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He told them they had to man up otherwise they would go out. That’s the crucial part of coaching. Yes, you need a system the players can understand but the most important thing is to inspire them and ensure they give 100 per cent. I think that’s the way Kevin is so good. I wanted to be out of my comfort zone and try something new. This was a great environment in which to learn and get better. I love working with Steve – he’s the most driven person I’ve ever met and he’s a fantastic coach.

Larder began his playing career at centre for Manchester club side Broughton Park before signing for Sale. He then decided to transfer cross-code to rugby league, where he played for Oldham and later Whitehaven. I don’t know. I think it’s pretty obvious to most of us,” he says. “There are good coaches and bad ones as well. Kevin and Mike have proved, in rugby league and now, that they are the right characters. Not everyone in rugby league is the right character. But look at Shaun and Faz, Andy Farrell. Previous documentaries have captured Andy Farrell in full flight, imploring an audience of British and Irish Lions to “ destroy and enjoy”. Netflix will want a piece of that action, and should have plenty of opportunity.Edwards and Farrell, born and bred Wiganers who made their names in the famous cherry and white jersey, have become two of the most respected coaches in rugby union. Tony joined the RFU in 1989, but his work has only more recently seen since Clive Woodward focused more of his time upon technical and video analysis of individual players and their strengths and weaknesses. He will be looking after all aspects of team analysis and opposition analysis for the entire squad.

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