Shaun Edwards: The players will love working with new England defensive coach Kevin Sinfield

Shaun Edwards: What sets Kevin Seinfeld apart as a player is his leadership, which has turned into his coaching. He deserves a knighthood for Rob Borow fundraiser – players will see that and want to play for New England No. 2

Kevin Seinfeld called me for some advice before he moved to rugby union two years ago and I always knew it would be successful. We had three or four conversations and he told me about his opportunity to work with Steve Borthwick at Leicester Tigers.

What you work on in rugby league are your individual skills; How do you throw a dummy, how do you hand it over, how do you beat one-on-one. In union you have to become familiar with things like scrum and lineout.

Borthwick is a very good technical coach and there are few better people to learn the intricacies of the game from. She tells Kevin it was the perfect opportunity to get into the game and now they both have developed into England coaches.

Kevin Sinfield has been announced as the new England defensive coach to work under Steve Borthwick

Our rugby league career never really skipped over, but Kevin was an amazing player with a great track record in the big games. He was brilliant at everything. He could take the ball up the middle to make the yards difficult, but he was also a very creative player. He was a great link between full-backs and forwards as he was capable of playing in multiple positions. Very good offensively with the ability to make 30 tackles per game.

What sets him apart is his drive. He had great connections and that turned into his coaching.

No one who trained him had a bad word to say about him. Just look at the amazing fundraiser he’s doing for his old teammate, Rob Burrow, who suffers severely from motor neurone disease.

He deserves a knighthood for that. This is the definition of leadership by example for me. Players will see that, respect that and want to play for it.

There are a lot of players with rugby league backgrounds who coach in the union now. Kevin, Me and Andy Farrell to name a few. People often ask me why there are so many and it goes back to when the great Australian team came to Great Britain in 1982.

Seinfeld (R) leads by example in an amazing fundraiser for former Leeds Rhinos team mate Rob Burrow (L) who suffers from motor neuron disease

Seinfeld (R) leads by example in an amazing fundraiser for former Leeds Rhinos team mate Rob Burrow (L) who suffers from motor neuron disease

They were very successful and Phil Larder, who was from Oldham, had the opportunity to go and spend some time at their camp. He saw how focused they were on their defense and brought that back into our game, becoming a leader alongside guys like Clive Griffiths and Dave Ellis.

At the time, rugby union coaching revolved around attacking. I was captain of the FA Pupils’ team and I don’t think we ever worked in defence. People like Phil, Clive, and Dave joined the union and changed that. Phil ended up working alongside Sir Clive Woodward when England won the 2003 World Cup.

Nowadays you watch Test rugby and many big games are won on defence. I told Kevin the difference with the union is that there is always competition for the ball. You can lose the ball at any moment.

The England players will respect new defensive coach Sinfield and want to play with him

The England players will respect new defensive coach Sinfield and want to play with him

France will be visiting Twickenham in a few months and it won't be any easier with Borthwick and Seinfeld in charge

France will be visiting Twickenham in a few months and it won’t be any easier with Borthwick and Seinfeld in charge

What I picked up on in our conversations is the way Kevin thinks about the game. There was an upcoming legal amendment where if you lifted the ball over the try line the defending team would be given a chance to fold. The Leeds Rhinos worked hard on their goal-line defence, and we talked about that. Your instinct as a defense coach is to train your players to win tackles but this amendment to the law changes that.

Kevin talked about how they put their hands in a certain position to accept power and take the opposition above the line. Along the way, you’re asked to win the crash but all of a sudden, you’re telling someone to lose the crash when it’s hot. He thinks about things differently and I loved that.

I wish him all the best. I’m coming to Twickenham with France in a few months and we expect England to be at their best. Winning at Twickenham is an important milestone on your resume and that’s what I’ll tell my players when we come over – but I certainly don’t expect it to get any easier with Steve and Kevin in charge.

#Shaun #Edwards #players #love #working #England #defensive #coach #Kevin #Sinfield

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