Mal­lett is the man to lead Eng­land, says Az­zurri star

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

NICK Mal­lett has all the cre­den­tials to drag Eng­land out of their state of dis­unity and dis­ar­ray, ac­cord­ing to an iconic Ital­ian who knows all about his straight-talk­ing, dis­ci­plinar­ian ap­proach.

Le­ices­ter prop Martin Cas­tro­gio­vanni was a piv­otal fig­ure in the Az­zurri side coached by Mal­lett from 2007 through to the re­cent World Cup.

The 30-year-old strong­man played the whole 80 min­utes dur­ing the last Six Na­tions when Italy claimed ar­guably their great­est re­sult – a 22-21 vic­tory over France which left Mal­lett cry­ing tears of joy on the field at Sta­dio Flaminio.

As the An­glo-south African pre­pares to over­see the South­ern Hemi­sphere team in to­day’s He­roes Rugby Chal­lenge at Twick­en­ham, he has emerged as the front-run­ner to suc­ceed Martin John­son as Eng­land’s long- term head coach.

And Cas­tro­gio­vanni be­lieves the emo­tion which came out in March, along with a ruth­less streak, makes Mal­lett the right man to re­vive Eng­land.

The Hert­ford­shire- born coach has an out­stand­ing CV, in­clud­ing a world-record run of 17 straight Test vic­to­ries with the Spring­boks and back-to­back French ti­tles with Stade Fran­cais.

But “Cas­tro” fills in the gaps by pro­vid­ing an in­sight into his meth­ods and what makes him tick.

“I know Nick as a coach and as a per­son and I think with the prob­lems Eng­land have had, he would be the right man for the job,” he said.

“Nick has quite a Latin tem- per­a­ment, he is very pas­sion­ate and he can pass that pas­sion on to the play­ers. All the teams he has coached, he’s got them play­ing for him and play­ing for the shirt. English peo­ple are dif­fer­ent to Ital­ian peo­ple but I think he can man­age them well.

“He is emo­tional a lot of the time. When he cried it wasn’t just for the cam­era – that is how much he cares about the game and about win­ning,” the front row for­ward added.

“Eng­land are in a bad place but I think Nick can get them out of it. I al­ways felt as a player I could trust him. He makes you feel that he be­lieves in you.”

While the RFU have made it clear they want a head coach with ex­pe­ri­ence and pedi­gree, they also want some­one to pro­vide a moral lead.

Af­ter the off-field con­tro­ver­sies at the World Cup, the national team’s im­age has been dragged down but Cas­tro­gio­vanni por­trayed Mal­lett as a firm, au­thor­i­ta­tive fig­ure who can re­store or­der with­out con­ces­sion to sta­tus or rep­u­ta­tion.

The Ital­ian said: “If he has some­thing to say, Nick is the sort of per­son who will al­ways say it to your face – he doesn’t mess about.

“Some­times what he says can be hard to take and it might p*** you off a bit, but I pre­fer that hon­esty. He won’t be afraid to stand in front of you and say you are not worth a place in his team.

“I think he is the right man for this job – there has been too much go­ing on and too many peo­ple talk­ing, but he can shut ev­ery­one up.

“He will talk like that to a se­nior player as well as a ju­nior player,” he con­tin­ued.

“With Italy, he would be tough on Ser­gio Parisse (the cap­tain) just the same as any­one else. If we were late for a meet­ing he would say, ‘That is not good enough’, and he would say it to any­one. Nick is def­i­nitely strong on dis­ci­pline.” – Daily Mail

MAN FOR THE JOB: Nick Mal­lett, coach of the South­ern Hemi­sphere side holds a Help for He­roes shirt with Si­mon Brown a former Bri­tish Army cor­po­ral at 10 Down­ing Street.

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