Northampton lure Alex King from French stronghold


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The Independent Online

Northampton have recruited the former Wasps and England fly-half Alex King to replace Paul Grayson on the coaching team at Franklin's Gardens.

King, who is in his fifth season as assistant coach at Clermont Auvergne, will join Northampton in the summer.

Grayson's sudden departure from the club in November, after 19 years as a Saint, left a vacancy in the management team alongside director of rugby Jim Mallinder and forwards coach Dorian West.

Mallinder said the club had been "inundated" with applications but that King's experience, first as a player and now as a coach, made him the outstanding candidate.

"I'm very excited about the prospect of joining Northampton Saints, which is one of the biggest clubs in Europe," King said.

"In Jim Mallinder, the Saints have a director of rugby that I respect greatly and a good, young team with plenty of talented English players. I hope that I'll be able to help bring success to Franklin's Gardens.

"I've had an amazing six years in France as a player and a coach. I have learned a great deal by working with great coaches like Vern Cotter, Joe Schmidt and Franck Azema.

"I feel that I am more knowledge-able about the sport and hopefully I can bring that to Northampton.

"It's the right time for me to come home to England and to a club like the Saints, which has a very bright future under Jim's leadership."

King, 37, won five England caps in a career in which he played a key role in Wasps becoming the dominant club team of their era, winning two Heineken Cups, four league titles and three domestic cups.

After finishing his playing days with Clermont, King moved into a coaching role and helped the club win their first French title in 2010. This year they are strong Heineken Cup contenders.

"We have been inundated with applications from coaches over the past few weeks, but I believe that Alex is the right person to help us move forward as a group," Mallinder said.

"As a player he was part of an excellent London Wasps team and as a coach he has helped Clermont Auvergne become one of the top clubs in Europe. He has built up a considerable amount of experience in a short space of time and is a coach who has some exciting ideas."

Mallinder also confirmed a dual role for Alan Dickens, who will join the first team coaching group and continue as academy manager.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the Scottish Rugby Union announced that Dean Ryan, the former England back-row, will coach Scotland's forwards at the forthcoming Six Nations.

Ryan, the former head coach at Gloucester , will take on the role on an interim basis. assisting Scott Johnson, who has taken over as head coach following Andy Robinson's resignation in November. Stevie Scott, the former Scotland hooker, also joins Johnson's staff as skills coach. Ryan, who won four caps for England during a playing career which saw him play for Saracens, Wasps, Newcastle and Bristol, said: "I will look to bring my experience to bear to give Scotland players the best opportunity to represent their country in the best way."

Johnson added: "I'm delighted we have secured the services of Dean and Stevie. To get people of their calibre mid-season is a real coup," said the Australian, who joined the Scotland staff as attack coach last year.

"Dean is a sound, knowledgeable, mature rugby man and Stevie, with his background of having played 11 times for Scotland, knows what it means to wear the jersey."

Ryan and Scott will also be working with assistant coach Matt Taylor and specialists Duncan Hodge (kicking and catching) and Massimo Cuttitta (scrummaging).