Saints have sights set on Wales coach Gat­land

Cynon Valley - - RUGBYUNION -

NORTHAMP­TON Saints are set to make an au­da­cious move to prise War­ren Gat­land away from Wales fol­low­ing the sack­ing of coach Jim Mallinder.

Gat­land is at the head of a list of big name can­di­dates be­ing drawn up by English rugby’s cri­sis club af­ter they were turned down by Steve Hansen’s for­mer New Zealand as­sis­tant Wayne Smith.

Mallinder got the chop fol­low­ing Saints’ 43-32 Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup exit against Guin­ness PRO14 strug­glers Ospreys last week­end.

And they went down 32-15 to Steve Tandy’s men in Sun­day’s re­match to ex­tend their los­ing streak to 10.

Northamp­ton bene­fac­tor Keith Bar­well, the mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man who has bankrolled the for­mer Euro­pean cham­pi­ons for years and re­mains on its board, said they would now sound out Gat­land.

Fam­ily club Saints are known to be the type of out­fit who may ap­peal to Gat­land but he is con­tracted to Wales un­til the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan.

But that hasn’t de­terred the east mid­lan­ders, with Bar­well out­lin­ing their plan to at­tract a top coach with Scar­lets boss Wayne Pi­vac also on their radar.

“We will start at the top, with peo­ple like War­ren Gat­land,” Bar­well told the Rugby Pa­per. “We are look­ing for some­one who can deal with the way rugby has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the last few years.”

Should Gat­land be in­ter­ested – he re­cently said his fo­cus was on win­ning the Rugby World Cup with Wales – Northamp­ton would have to dig deep to se­cure his ser­vices.

He is on a salary of about £450,000 a year with the Welsh Rugby Union and will also pocket a bumper bonus if he sees out his con­tract.

The Aviva Pre­mier­ship club would al­most cer­tainly have to bet­ter those fig­ures and pay com­pen­sa­tion to the union, with a pack­age likely to cost them in ex­cess of £1m, to have any chance of lur­ing him to Franklin’s Gar­dens.

Gat­land, 54, doesn’t plan on seek­ing an ex­ten­sion to his Wales po­si­tion, which he took up fol­low­ing the 2007 Rugby World Cup sham­bles and has brought three Six Na­tions ti­tles, a Rugby World Cup semi-fi­nal and quar­ter-fi­nal, when his cur­rent deal runs out in just un­der two years time.

A WRU spokesman said last night: “War­ren is con­tracted to Wales un­til the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.”

Wayne Pi­vac has also im­pressed Northamp­ton with his work at the Scar­lets – they ran their way to last sea­son’s Guin­ness PRO12 ti­tle in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion – but re­cently signed a con­tract ex­ten­sion to re­main in west Wales.

HUW EVANS AGENCY

Head Coach of Wales War­ren Gat­land

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