The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have confirmed the appointment of Paul Gustard to England's revamped backroom staff. The 39-year-old will leave Aviva Premiership champions Saracens in January to take the reins as defence coach under Eddie Jones after Andy Farrell was axed along with Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt earlier this week.
"To be given the chance with England is hugely humbling and I am thrilled to be involved," Gustard said after his new position was confirmed. "I would like to thank Saracens for allowing me to leave and take up this opportunity. I hope that experience will stand me in good stead for this next challenge.
"This has been a difficult decision to make, but to coach England is an opportunity you just don't turn down. I have enjoyed 10 wonderful years at Saracens, both as a player and as a coach. It's been an incredible journey.
"I have made some amazing memories as part of such a special group, but there is a very exciting opportunity ahead for me that I'm really looking forward to. My focus now is the next six weeks by helping this brilliant playing and coaching group prepare for some important games."
Gustard is set to remain with Saracens until the England Elite Player Squad (EPS) reconvene in preparation for next year's Six Nations. That campaign starts with a trip to face Scotland at Murrayfield before another away clash in Italy and respective home matches against Ireland and Wales. England close the competition at the Stade de France on 19 March 2016.
Commenting on his new coach, Jones said: "An important part of England going forward is to make sure we keep the traditional and fundamental bits of English rugby in place and that has always been a strong set piece and a very aggressive defence. He has overseen Saracens' growth as a team. He has produced an aggressive defence system there and we are hoping he can do the same for England."
With Gustard's appointment now secured, confusion still reigns as to the future of Steve Borthwick. The former England captain, who worked with Jones during Japan's memorable 2015 World Cup campaign, was recently announced as Rowntree's replacement as forwards coach but appeared to become embroiled in a club versus country row as current employers Bristol denied that they had given the RFU permission to hold talks or allowed him to leave Ashton Gate.
The identity of Jones' skipper has also been on the agenda in recent days. With Chris Robshaw very likely to lose the role but remain in the squad, widespread reports have suggested that Dylan Hartley is a leading contender to marshal the team. Northampton's long-serving hooker certainly boasts the necessary experience with 66 international caps, although his disciplinary record is notably poor and he was dropped from the World Cup training squad entirely after being handed a four-week ban for headbutting opposite number Jamie George in last season's Premiership semi-final meeting with Saracens.