Graham Rowntree has moved on from his England sacking
Rowntree was axed by England after the premature exit from the last World Cup and has since landed on his feet in the Premiership with Harlequins.
Then a couple of weeks ago he got a call from Warren Gatland inviting him to take charge of the scrum on this summer’s Lions tour to New Zealand.
Rowntree insists the harsh lessons of the World Cup disaster have made him a better coach and says he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
The 45-year-old has been back to Twickenham a couple of times since his sacking but did not suffer a tinge of envy as England racked up 18 straight wins and the Lions post proves he still has credibility on the Test stage.
“It is less stressful than being sat in the coaching box. I enjoy it – I am an Englishman,” he said. “People ask me what it’s like watching them win everything and I say, ‘It’s bloody great! It’s great!’
“I’ve known a lot of those guys since they were young guys breaking through.
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“It was an unbelievably tough experience what we went through, probably one that some coaches will never go through again – a home World Cup and the pressures of that circumstance.
“As long as you learn in life from things like that you move forward positively. I learnt a lot and have nothing but pride to see the guys now, the way they are performing.
“They have been through some tough times now with a very similar looking squad that has learnt from those experiences – and look what they are delivering now for England.
“I’ve still got some credit in the bank. I am honoured and it’s a real fillip for me. My life is a lot different to what it was before and rightly so.
“I think I am a better coach, more rounded for my experiences. At Test level I have learnt a lot through what happened in the World Cup, and problem solving on a daily basis I am enjoying. I am a more rounded coach.”
John Kingston, the Harlequins director of rugby, gave his mate Rowntree his current gig last season and he could see how much his friend was hurting.
Graham Rowntree will work alongside Warren Gatland in New Zealand
“Graham is an unbelievably competitive man, very proud as well,” said Kingston. “He took that very hard. For him to get that reward – I couldn’t have been more happy for him. He is so valued by the players and the club here.”
Gatland names his Lions squad next month and Rowntree, who will be on his fifth tour as a player and coach, is adamant they will be the strongest Lions party to leave these shores in a generation and could emulate the heroes of 1971 by winning in New Zealand.
Rowntree added: “This will probably be the toughest Lions tour for a long time but we are going to assemble probably the best squad for the last 30 years. Look at the people we could take.
“We are quite capable of winning. If you get to that first Test in the right state of mind and mentally hardened – anything can happen.
“Forwards-wise we have got a lot of talented lads, good players, dynamic, workers and I can’t wait to see them against that All Black pack.”