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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Gaffney excited by Saracens role
By Mark Orlovac

Alan Gaffney
Gaffney is back in work after leaving his role with Australia
New Saracens coach Alan Gaffney is confident he can reverse the club's ailing fortunes.

Gaffney, recently assistant coach of Australia, is charged with bringing home a trophy for the club for the first time since 1998.

"I have followed Sarries for a lot of years, there have been a lot of Aussies playing for them," he told BBC Sport.

"They have gone through a few lean times in recent years but I am sure that can be rectified."

Saracens have been labelled as the perennial under-achievers in the Premiership with just the 1998 Tetley's Bitter Cup Final their only success in the professional era.

Gaffney, 58, has succeeded Steve Diamond, who was sacked in February after a poor start to the season saw Saracens on the brink of relegation.

The former Munster coach was Australia assistant under Eddie Jones, who as Saracens temporary boss has secured their top-flight status and advised on the appointment.

I have thought about returning to club rugby, I have always enjoyed it
Alan Gaffney

Jones has guided the club to seventh and safety after coming in as a consultant but the Australian cannot be appointed on a permanent basis as he has signed a three-year contract with Queensland Reds.

The former Australia coach hand-picked Gaffney, who was then assistant coach at New South Wales, to work with the Wallabies.

However, both men lost their jobs last December after a dismal run of form by the Australian national side.

"I have thought about returning to club rugby, I have always enjoyed it," said Gaffney, who guided Munster to Celtic Cup glory last summer.

"Opportunities in Australia are very restricted as far as that is concerned.

"It is an amateur game in the main at club level at home. From a professional perspective it would be a Super 14 side or a position with the Australian national team but beyond that there is not a lot of money around.

Former Australia coach Eddie Jones in training with Saracens
Jones is a keen admirer of Gaffney's coaching abilities

"So it's a matter of going where opportunities do lie."

And Gaffney says he is fully aware of the demands of the Premiership having spent four years in Ireland with Munster and as assistant coach of Leinster.

"Obviously it is a very difficult competition," he added. "With the threat of relegation hanging over clubs it is a difficult time for all concerned.

"I had the luxury in Ireland where that situation does not apply.

"The negatives of not being in it as opposed to being in it must be enormous.

"It is also a huge consideration for the players. They want to further their careers, playing representative rugby, and you will have a lot more chance of that if you know you are playing in the top flight week in week out and will be next year.

"You like to see players playing with ambition and trying certain things but there is a risk that a mistake could lead to relegation such as Jeremy Staunton for Harlequins last summer.

"I am not blaming him but it should never have come down to him kicking a penalty from 40m out to keep Quins in the top flight but that is what happens."

Gaffney beat former Italy coach John Kirwan and Nigel Melville, who has been in charge of both Wasps and Gloucester, to land the Saracens role.

Interview: New Saracens coach Alan Gaffney

Gaffney named new Saracens coach
12 Apr 06 |  English
Diamond sacked as Saracens coach
08 Feb 06 |  English
Munster appoint Gaffney
18 Apr 02 |  Celtic


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