Rugby Union: Ryan moves forward for Bristol role

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The Independent Online
NEWCASTLE FALCONS' championship winning captain, Dean Ryan, has left Kingston Park for the Allied Dunbar Premiership Two leaders Bristol. The 32-year-old lock will link up with the Australian World Cup coach Bob Dwyer subject to a medical. He has been sidelined this season following a neck operation.

Ryan, recalled briefly to the England team last season, turned down the chance to stay with Newcastle to join Bristol as forwards coach, but is determined to carry on his playing career.

"It will be a huge wrench to leave Newcastle after so much success over the last three years," Ryan said. "But I am still ambitious. I want to develop my rugby career and Bristol have offered me an opportunity to continue playing as well as having a coaching-management role."

Ryan has spent 10 years with the Newcastle manager, Rob Andrew, and the Falcons coach, Steve Bates, at both Wasps and Kingston Park where the triumvirate were lured by Sir John Hall in October 1996.

"I am very disappointed to see Dean leave the management team at Newcastle and I tried hard to keep him here," Andrew said.

Paul Turner, the Saracens backs coach who turns 40 next month, may play a role in tomorrow night's big London derby with Wasps, thanks to Alain Penaud's continuing "dead leg" problems. Turner was given a run-out from the bench during Sunday's victory over Bedford and, even though Saracens yesterday signed Matt Jones, the London Irish stand-off, on a month's loan, there was every possibility that the former Wales playmaker would remain in the squad.

"I still feel able to do the job, if asked," Turner said yesterday. "I've kept myself fit and spending so much recent time watching from the sidelines has given me a clearer idea of where we're going wrong in certain situations."

Judging by the way Bath have performed these last six weeks or so, they could use one or two old heads in key positions. Understandably, Andy Robinson, their coach, has recalled Martin Haag, one of his longest-serving forwards, to the second row for tonight's important match at Sale. Haag, who has been awarded a testimonial season by the club he joined a decade ago, replaces Nigel Redman, who was badly concussed during the early stages of last Saturday's humiliating defeat at Gloucester.

Sale are in an almost equally desperate state, although few sides enjoy a comfortable ride against the Heywood Road threequarters. The Cheshire club's latest wing discovery, Steve Hanley, has scored six tries in four Premiership outings and hastened the departure of his England club-mate, Tom Beim, into the bargain. According to the Sale sages, he is an international in waiting. "He can go all the way and he can do it early," said Jim Mallinder, the Sale captain, yesterday. "He is confident, arrogant even, but he's also very level-headed. England have big backs and they have quick backs, but Steve has it all."

Gloucester, who travel to London Scottish in their eternal quest for a decent away victory, bring Dave Sims, the club captain, out of purdah for a rare appearance at lock. Richard Hill, the Cherry and Whites coach, has repeatedly preferred Mark Cornwell to the more experienced England hand of late, but Cornwell twanged a groin muscle during his outstanding performance at Kingsholm on Saturday and sits out the trip to The Stoop.

David Humphreys, the Irish international stand-off whose inspirational form has propelled Ulster into the semi- finals of the European Cup, has declared himself fit to face the tournament favourites, Stade Francais, at Ravenhill on Saturday.

Humphreys has not played since damaging his left shoulder in the closing seconds of the quarter-final victory over Toulouse last month, but he had cause for celebration yesterday. "Not only am I ready to play, but it's blowing a gale here in Belfast," he said. "As long as it stays this way, we'll fancy our chances against the French."

He added: "I've done very little on the physical front since Toulouse, but a game of this magnitude tends to accelerate your recovery."