New England coach Stuart Lancaster. Photo: David Rogers
JOHANNESBURG: Former South African and Italian rugby coach Nick Mallett on Thursday congratulated Stuart Lancaster on his appointment as England's permanent head coach.
Mallett was passed over for the job in favour of Lancaster who, as interim coach, guided England to four wins out of five in this season's Six Nations, culminating in a 30-9 victory over Ireland at Twickenham earlier this month.
"I would like to congratulate Stuart Lancaster on his appointment as England Rugby head coach," Mallett said in a statement.
"I am sure he will continue to build on the good work he has done with the team in the aftermath of a difficult World Cup for them.
"I believe the process was conducted in the most professional manner. I gave it my best shot and was glad to be able to discuss my feelings and philosophy on how I'd have coached the team," he said.
"With the speculation around the England head coach position now out of the way, I am looking forward to sitting down and looking at other opportunities in the world of rugby."
However, World Cup-winner Ben Cohen insisted England had made a mistake.
Lancaster - previously coach of England's development Saxons, saw off a challenge for the full-time England job from vastly more experienced Mallett, with the likes of ex-Springbok supremo Jake White and New Zealand's Wayne Smith dropping out of contention along the way.
Lancaster has been appointed to take England to the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
But former winger Cohen, a member of the only England team to win the World Cup back in 2003, when Clive Woodward was coach and Johnson captain, told Talksport Radio: "I don't think he is the right man.
"I think he is a man to keep around the squad for the future most definitely and have someone with a bit of experience around that who has maybe got experience in World Cups.
"Nick Mallett 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."
England travel to South Africa for a three-Test series in June before facing the Springboks at Twickenham later this year, with Australia, world champions New Zealand and Fiji also coming to London to take on Lancaster's side.
If England are not in the top four of the International Rugby Board rankings by December, they will miss out on a top seeding for the World Cup and that could harm their hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy for a second time.
"Let's be frank. You look at the Six Nations as a honeymoon period and there are testing times to come ahead," Cohen said.
"Yes, he will learn from every game and every situation he has and he has got four years to build up to the World Cup but you want someone who has 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.
"Will he have the experience and will he have the coaching team he had in the Six Nations? I think it is going to be a watch-this-space scenario," added Cohen, who retired last year.
However, Lancaster's appointment was welcomed by current England players, with prop Alex Corbisiero saying on Twitter: "Right decision has been made."
Five-eighth Danny Cipriani, who will be back in England contention next season when he joins Sale from the Melbourne Rebels, tweeted: "Congratulations to Stuart Lancaster. His passion is 2nd to none."