Rugby Union

Saracens hope Paul Gustard sees in New Year with them before taking England role

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Saracens hope to retain Paul Gustard until the end of January, at which point they will be happy to sanction his departure for England.

Gustard, following the dismissals of Andy Farrell, Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree, is to be recruited to new international head coach Eddie Jones' staff as the Australian continues his overhaul of the set-up he inherited from Stuart Lancaster.

Jones, who was scheduled to meet Lancaster for the first time in Loughborough on Tuesday to discuss his experience of coaching the England team and who also wants Northampton's Alex King, is understood to already have Steve Borthwick working as his forwards coach despite an ongoing dispute between Bristol and the Rugby Football Union.

The former England captain handed in his notice on Tuesday in an attempt to force his departure, which is being delayed by Bristol demanding compensation in the region of ?500,000 and Twickenham's view that that is excessive - but Gustard's official transfer from Saracens is expected to be considerably smoother.

"It's just sorting out when he leaves," said Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall. "Not at all (there's no sense the club will stand in his way).

"He's received an offer and the club and the RFU are in negotiations which are ongoing.

"I would hope (it is concluded soon) but I'm not in control of that. Hopefully the sooner the better for everyone.

"It's very important he makes the decision without feeling pressurised by us in any way to stay. I want him to make a really good decision on why he should leave to coach England without having any regrets about staying here.

"Gussy has been a huge part of what we've achieved over the past six years. Clearly (his departure) will have an effect. But he's working with us and, if he does go, hopefully until the end of this block of games which lead us through to the first EPS (Elite Player Squad) camp.

"That would be my desire if he is going to leave, that he is here until January 24 - when we play Toulouse away and then the EPS camp begins on the next Monday.

"I expect him to be an important part of what we do over the next six weeks."

Asked about the qualities Gustard possesses from which England can expect to benefit, McCall spoke highly of his defence coach's work ethic and communication skills, before also appearing to rule out the potential return of Farrell to the club when he seeks Gustard's replacement.

"(Gustard's) got a clarity in how he speaks and an energy in how he goes about things which will be a bit different in what they're probably accustomed to," said McCall, whose team on Saturday host Oyonnax in the European Champions Cup.

"He keeps it simple in his message but in a really good way. He is an unbelievably hard worker. He's just a unique coach.

"If he does go to international rugby obviously it does have its moments of hard work and has some down time and I honestly think he will struggle with the down time because with us he did line-outs as well as defence and he is always seeking more to do.

"I would say (he's a workaholic), yeah. He is a big detail man. If he is going to send you a text message normally it has five of six paragraphs instead of three sentences.

"He is a good all-round coach and could easily be a director of rugby. To top it all he is also massively into recruitment and (England) certainly won't lack for a hard worker. He is great at analysing the opposition and understands the game very well. But he does sell his message very clearly and in a very unique way.

"Andy Farrell's a brilliant coach, and again, he's a friend of ours. What we need to look at is the balance in our coaching team, and since Andy left there are two new backs coaches, or coaches who are backs, if you want to look at it that way.

"Clearly we need to have the right balance in our coaching team, and that's something we'll try and achieve."

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