England backs coach Andy Farrell insists head coach Stuart Lancaster had the final say in their Rugby World Cup selection meetings in response to claims he was the dominant voice in picking the team.
The hosts were stunningly knocked out of the tournament following successive defeats by Wales and Australia and conclude their tournament with Saturday’s (Sunday AEDT) match against Uruguay in Manchester.
Details have emerged of disquiet within the playing squad over the influence of Farrell in selection and tactics as well as the management’s determination to pick Sam Burgess despite his lack of experience in the 15-man code.
Farrell, however, said Lancaster had the ultimate call in deciding whether a player was in or out.
“You might find it hard to believe but we agree on more things than we disagree with. It’s not even a disagreement because we are on the same page as each other,” Farrell said.
“We have discussions. I can’t remember one incident where a coach would have been upset about something because we’re all united together.
“There’s been plenty of times when three of you are united and Lancaster makes the call and it’s completely different. It’s Stuart’s gig. We back him to the hilt.
“Ultimately we all work under Stuart’s umbrella and that umbrella is a brilliant place to work.
“There are perimeters within that, but as coaches we are unbelievably happy with how he runs things.”
Burgess’ commitment to the cause has never been in doubt, but his presence has been divisive with a feeling among members of the squad that it was hard-running centre Luther Burrell who should have been picked.
“For people to think it was disruptive couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s unfair all the comments coming out about him. Obviously it’s a big story now,” Farrell said.
“(Burgess) put a tremendous amount of effort in. He’s been selfless to the team in helping lead the boys and galvanising everyone together. He’s been priceless as far as I’m concerned.
“Yes we did fail but he came on against Fiji and played pretty well and almost changed the game with a few of the lads around.
“The story’s always going to be blown up out of proportion. But my overriding feeling for him is that he has given his all and we thank him for that.”