Mallett is the man to lead England, says Azzurri star
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.