Aviva Premiership
Mallinder denies Doran-Jones rift
ESPN Staff
March 1, 2013
Northampton Saints' prop Paul Doran-Jones finds himself in the middle of a maul, Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, September 22, 2012
Paul Doran-Jones will leave the Saints at the end of the season © Getty Images
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Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has denied that there is a rift between the Premiership club's coaching staff and prop Paul Doran-Jones.

Doran-Jones will leave the Saints at the end of the season having agreed a switch to Premiership rivals Harlequins and raised eyebrows with his comments when the transfer was announced. The Harlequins press release announcing his capture quoted Doran-Jones as saying that he was looking forward to joining Quins as "the team play with smiles on their faces, a sure sign that they enjoy their style of rugby".

Some saw Doran-Jones' comments as criticism of the Saints management team and while Mallinder admits he was "shocked" and "very disappointed" by what the prop was reported to have said, he is adamant that he holds no grudges.

"There is no rift between Paul Doran-Jones and the coaching staff," Mallinder told a Northampton Saints season ticket holder forum earlier this week. "Doran-Jones has had a few personal problems. He has been supported by the club, he has been given quite a lot of time off. And the reason why he is leaving is because his girlfriend lives in London, as does the rest of the family, and he wants to go back to London.

"I was as shocked, as I'm sure all you were, when I read the announcement from Harlequins. I was very disappointed; I got the player in immediately and spoke to him. He apologised profusely, he said that he had had a conversation with the Harlequins press officer. He did say some things but the way that it was reported was completely not appropriate to what he said and he was stupid because he hadn't actually read the press release. And if he had done, he would not have agreed to it. He apologised profusely. Damage already done, Paul. Not good at all, but unfortunately it happened. There is no rift between coaches and the players."

Mallinder has opted to add former Wasps and Clermont Auvergne backs coach Alex King to his coaching staff ahead of next season and he will replace Paul Grayson who left the club earlier this term. Grayson's departure from the Saints was immediate and Mallinder described the decision to change his backroom staff as "the hardest decision that I have made in my time here".

"Paul Grayson was a loyal player and a very good coach here for 19 years," Mallinder said. "I've actually known him for a lot longer than that as a friend and a player; I've known him for probably 25 years. It was probably the hardest decision that I have made in my time here. But for the sake of the club it was the right thing to do, we needed to freshen things up and have a few new ideas. Paul wanted a long-term contract and we thought it was time that we made the change and we look to move on.

"I am delighted that we have got somebody in with the calibre of Alex King, he is someone I have known for a long time. I value his values, I know what he has done as a player, I know what he has done as a coach and I do think that he will massively add to the mix."

Click here to listen to the full forum, courtesy of @rugbymedia

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