Dickens throws hat in the ring for full-time Saints coaching role

Alan Dickens says he would have to be ‘daft’ not to want the role of Saints backs coach on a full-time basis.

By Tom Vickers
Saturday, 29th December 2012, 7:20 am

The Academy mentor stepped up into the first-team setup after Paul Grayson left the club at the end of November.

Saints boss Jim Mallinder had sought to bring fresh ideas to his coaching staff, with Saints struggling to score tries.

Mallinder said there were ‘hundreds and thousands’ of options at his disposal as he looked to appoint a full-time backs coach to fill the void left by Grayson.

But Dickens, who steered the Wanderers to the Aviva A League semi-final stage this season, has been given the chance to impress on a temporary basis.

And the 36-year-old admits he’d love to be the permanent successor to Grayson.

“For me to say I didn’t (want the job) would be daft and I think that’s the same for a player,” said the former Saints scrum-half. “If you ask a player from a Championship club or below how much do you want to be involved in a professional outfit they’d bite your hand off.”

And he added: “I’m enjoying the day to day work, planning for the week and the involvement on a matchday as well.

“In terms of my development as a coach I want to be the best I can be. If it happens it happens, that’s really out of my hands. All I can do is work hard and put the time and effort in.”

Grayson’s Saints exit ended his 19-year association with the club as a player and coach.

And Dickens admits succeeding the man who kicked Saints to Heineken Cup glory in 2000 is no easy task.

He said: “I was lucky enough to play under Grays for my last two years then coming over onto the academy side, learning from him because he understood the game.

“He’s a club legend and it is a tough act to follow.”

Dickens’ work with the Wanderers is clearly one of the key reasons why Mallinder opted to bring him into the first-team setup.

The Saints second string have impressed so far this season, only missing out on the A League final at the last four stage against a strong Saracens side.

And Dickens says he has tried to bring some of his knowledge of working with the Wanderers into the first-team picture.

“With the Wanderers, it’s very similar to the first team because the majority of the players do train week in, week out so in terms of me coming into the role, it’s not a matter of changing everything,” he said.

“It’s about small things that I can do mid-season and hopefully the boys will take them on.”

So how is Dickens enjoying working with director of rugby Mallinder and forwards coach Dorian West.

“I’m still sitting at my desk in the academy room, so I’m not quite in there yet but it’s good,” he said. “We’re honest, we’re up front, we talk about rugby so it’s good.”

And the players?

“We’ve got some really, really good players at the club,” added Dickens. “We’ve got people who can play at pace, catch, pass, be precise and score tries. We just need to click.”