Mallinder brings Dowson back to Saints

Jim Mallinder has brought Phil Dowson back to Saints as assistant coach (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder has brought Phil Dowson back to Saints as assistant coach (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints have confirmed their coaching structure for next season, with Phil Dowson returning to Franklin's Gardens as an assistant coach.

Alan Dickens will fill the role of attack coach on a full-time basis, meaning Saints' hunt for a replacement for Alex King is now over.

Dorian West will remain in charge of the forwards, with Mark Hopley stepping up from his role as Academy coach to become defence coach.

Jim Mallinder, who is contracted to Saints until 2019, will remain in his role as director of rugby.

Dowson's return will be a popular one among the Franklin's Gardens faithful, with the back row forward having helped to spark some of the most successful years in Saints history.

He was a key component of the double-winning team of 2013/14 and became a big fans' favourite after moving from Newcastle Falcons in 2009.

Dowson, who racked up 186 Saints appearances, eventually departed for Worcester Warriors in 2015, but will retire at the end of the season and return to Northampton as a mentor for the club's current crop of players.

"We believe we have a strong, stable and committed group of coaches that will take the team forward next season,” Mallinder said.

“The first half of the current season was not what we wanted it to be, but since Christmas we have been playing some good rugby in all competitions, scoring tries and being very competitive in every game.

“Dorian, Alan and Mark have a strong working relationship and we are seeing the benefits of that on the pitch.

"Alan’s qualities were recognised last season when he helped England Saxons to a two-nil series win over the Emerging Springboks, Mark deserves his opportunity at this level after his excellent work with the Senior Academy over a number of years and the first team in the past few months, and both of them have achieved the highest possible level of coaching qualifications with the RFU.

“Stability is a hallmark of many successful teams, but it also good to freshen things up and we’re delighted to be welcoming Phil Dowson back to the club.

"Phil has been a leader throughout his playing career, whether at Newcastle, here at the Saints, or with the England Saxons, and played a key role in establishing the culture that took us to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

"He was always a coach on the field and we know that he will have the respect of the players.

"He’s had a great playing career and has everything it takes to be a successful coach, too.”