Dowson return exciting for Saints, says attack coach Dickens

Alan Dickens will fill the role of attack coach on a full-time basis
Alan Dickens will fill the role of attack coach on a full-time basis

Alan Dickens believes the summer return of Phil Dowson is exciting for Saints.

And Dickens is happy to be filling the role of attack coach on a full-time basis, with the management team now set in stone ahead of next season.

On Monday, Saints announced that former player Dowson, who made 186 appearances in the green, black and gold before moving to Worcester in 2015, would be coming back to Franklin’s Gardens as an assistant coach after retiring at the end of the season.

That means Dickens will be attack coach on a full-time basis having switched from defensive duties when Alex King left the club in October.

Mark Hopley has been in charge of the defence, stepping up from his role as Academy coach, while Jim Mallinder will remain as director of rugby and Dorian West as forwards coach.

And when asked whether being full-time attack coach will make life any different for him, Dickens said: “Not at all.

“I’ve done it for the past few months and I always view myself as a rugby coach (rather than a coach in a specific role).

“I was doing the defence before and now the attack, but I’m able to do both.

“It’s exciting to have Phil Dowson coming in. He’s someone we regard very highly here at the club and I’m sure the fans do as well. He’ll be an addition to us going forward.

“But we’re not looking that far just yet. We’ve got games left this season and at the minute we need to refocus, regather and go game by game until the end of the season.”

Saints have struggled defensively of late, shipping a total of 11 tries in their past two Aviva Premiership games, both of which they have lost.

And when asked why the team have suddenly started to attack better but defend more poorly, Dickens said: “I don’t really know. If we knew the answer we wouldn’t have conceded as many (at Newcastle) last weekend.

“I’ve been given a stat that we’ve scored three and a half tries on average since Christmas and I don’t quite know what it was before Christmas but we have had an emphasis on the attack.

“We need to refocus defensively and we’ve got the players who can do that.

“They performed before Christmas and we just need to regather ourselves and go again for this final push.”