>> Mallinder for Ulster, Ospreys?
JIM MALLINDER is in advanced talks to become Ulster’s new director of rugby – but they might still need to hold off a late advance from the Ospreys to land him. Mallinder has been looking for another job since being sacked by Northampton in December and had been a target for Cardiff Blues. The 52-yearold Yorkshireman turned down the chance of a return to the game in the Welsh capital and the Blues have since appointed John Mulvihill. Ulster have been looking for a new coach since Les Kiss, who is now working for London Irish, left the province earlier in the year. Jono Gibbs, in charge of the province until the end of the season, will be heading back to New Zealand in the summer. Blindside understands that Mallinder, who helped the Saints win a Premiership title and reach a Heineken Cup Final, will link up with Dorian West in Belfast. West, his sidekick at Franklin’s Gardens for a decade, recently announced he would leave the Saints ahead of the arrival of Kiwi Chris Boyd.
West had been linked with both Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers but looks ready to cross the Irish Sea if Mallinder clinched a deal with Ulster.
The Ospreys are looking to appoint a successor to Steve Tandy and have Mallinder on their wanted list as well as Allen Clarke who is in temporary charge of the team.
Clarke has impressed during his spell in the Liberty Stadium hot seat and is being backed to do the job on a permanent basis in many quarters.
Wanted man: Jim Mallinder