Saints boss Mallinder thankful for chairman Barwell’s backing

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder has praised Saints chairman Leon Barwell for backing him during the club’s recent dip in form.

Earlier this week, Barwell told the Chron that director of rugby Mallinder and forwards coach Dorian West would be in charge of team affairs at Franklin’s Gardens ‘for the foreseeable future’.

That assurance came after the 27-11 defeat to Gloucester last Saturday, which saw Saints drop to sixth in the Aviva Premiership.

They have also endured Heineken Cup and LV= Cup agony in recent weeks, leading to criticism from some sections of the Gardens support.

But Mallinder, who has steered Saints to three successive Premiership semi-finals, a Heineken Cup final and LV= Cup and European Challenge Cup triumphs since joining in 2007, is not fazed.

And, with his boss fully behind him, he is determined to turn things around, starting with a win at Worcester on Saturday.

“I think we’ve got a fantastic chairman and a brilliant board,” said Mallinder. “I’ve said that time and time again.

“We’re here for the long term. In professional sports you have lots of highs and you’re always going to have lows as well.

“We’re actually going through a little bit of a dip at the moment, we hold our hands up, we know that, we’re not trying to hide away.

“Hopefully the board can see what we’ve done in the club. We’ve had five tremendous years, getting through to some big games and winning some trophies.

“We are in a bit of a dip and we need to get out of that as soon as we possibly can and that starts on Saturday.”

Saints now face a key sequence of games, with Saturday’s trip to Worcester followed by home clashes with Bath and London Irish.

And Mallinder is confident his side can close the five-point gap on fourth-placed Wasps to make it into the Premiership play-offs.

“We’re still going for that top four, it’s not a long way out of our grasp,” he said. “It’s still there and it’s a massive target for us. The next three games are massive.

“We were disappointed last week and we need to put that right We can easily put it right because we’ve got the team to do it and we’ve got the determination to do it.”