Six Nations
Mallett rules out RFU switch
ESPNscrum Staff
January 26, 2011
Italy coach Nick Mallett talks to the media at the 2010 Six Nations launch, Hurlingham Club, London, Janury 27, 2010
Italy boss Nick Mallett is keen to remain in charge of the Azzurri post this year's Rugby World Cup © Getty Images

Italy coach Nick Mallett has played down reports linking him with the new post of performance director at the Rugby Football Union and hopes to sign a new deal with his current employers.

Mallett's contract with the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) expires following this year's World Cup in New Zealand and as a result the 54-year-old has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the RFU role. However, the former South Africa coach has dismissed those rumours and instead pleaded for more time within the Italy set-up.

"I love this job and I'd like to stay on after the World Cup, though that is up to the Italian Rugby Federation," Mallett told reports at the official Six Nations launch in London. "The performance director role with the RFU is not a job I'd get a lot of pleasure from. My real enthusiasm comes from working with players. I love coaching, getting out there and working with players and I'm not so interested in sitting on committees."

The RFU are looking for a performance director as the result of a re-structuring led by chief executive John Steele. The position, also linked to former England coach Sir Clive Woodward and Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan, will fall within a single rugby department that will also incorporate operations and development.

But Mallett has no interest in serving as England manager Martin Johnson's boss with his immediate focus falling on the Six Nations. However, he does have one eye on the future and wants to remain a key player in the sport's development in Italy. "I am definitely staying until the World Cup unless the Italian Federation decide it is time to change," said the former Stade Francais coach. "But not only would I like to stay until the World Cup but I would also like to stay after the World Cup. But that is not my decision it is the decision of the Italian Federation.

"I really enjoy what I am doing, I really enjoy the players and I think Italian rugby has still got a lot of improvement to make, particularly in the Celtic League. I think there is still al lot of work to do and I've taken a lot of pleasure out of this job and am looking forward to getting the team together on Thursday. But obviously that is tied in to results and if we see results there will be a possibility to stay on and if we don't the Federation has the opportunity to change."

Recent reports suggested that the FIR had already started scouting for a potential replacement for Mallett with Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel reportedly set to take over after the World Cup. But Mallett insists nothing has been decided regarding his future in the role.

"The decision regarding Italy will be taken after the Six Nations," he said. "When I had discussions with the President [Giancarlo Dondi] in November I wasn't sure what I would be doing after the World Cup therefore they contacted some coaches to find out what their positions would be after the World Cup. I then spoke to him over the phone 10 days ago and nothing has been signed with anyone and we'll have more discussions after the Six Nations."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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