Nick Mallett

Top man: Nick Mallett would have been a better choice as England head coach says Ben Cohen

BEN COHEN has criticised the appointment of Stuart Lancaster as England head coach on a permanent basis.

Cohen, who was part of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning squad, believes the RFU have made a mistake in giving Lancaster the role ahead of more experienced candidates like Nick Mallett, the former South Africa and Italy coach, and Wayne Smith, who was New Zealand’s assistant coach at last year’s World Cup.

Ben Cohen

Winging in: Ben Cohen in action for England

“I don’t think he is the right man,” Cohen told talkSPORT. “I think he is a man to keep around the squad for the future most definitely. Then have someone around that who’s maybe got experience in World Cups.

“Nick Mallet has got credentials coming out of his ears, he has got a great CV. And Wayne Smith. They are people who know how to react in tough times.

“Let’s be frank, you look at the Six Nations as a honeymoon period and there are testing times to come ahead. Yes, he will learn from every game and every situation he has, and he has four years to build up to the World Cup, but you want someone who’s got experience of managing through that. That’s how I see it. Hopefully I am wrong and I will have egg on my face in 18 months’ time.”

England won four of their five games in the recent Six Nations under Lancaster to finish second in the table, but Cohen added: “I’m still wary if he can manage the transition and bring on individuals. I haven’t seen the England side come on in their structure and systems that they play on the pitch.”