Jones hits the ground running at Sarries

New Saracens Director of Rugby Eddie Jones today finalised his coaching team for the 2008/09 campaign.

Jones began his new role today, succeeding Alan Gaffney,  and has wasted no time in announcing three new faces on his coaching staff with Alex Sanderson, Paul Gustard and Cobus Visagie joining his backroom team alongside Richard Graham who has been promoted to the role of Coaching Co-ordinator.

Sanderson joins as Forwards Coach with Adrian Kennedy moving on to take up the role of Head Coach with Taranaki in New Zealand. Former England back rower Sanderson, 28, spent two seasons as a player with Saracens before injury cut short his career.

Saracens have overseen Sanderson’s development as a coach in the past two years which included spending the 2007 Super 14 season with Jones at Queensland Reds and this year working with the England U18 squad.

Gustard who is joining the backroom team as a Skills Coach. The 32-year-old back row forward had a 11 year career as a professional with Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Saracens before announcing his retirement as a player a few weeks ago.

Prop Visagie will have a role as player coach where he will be able to pass on his knowledge as one of the best scrummagers in world rugby while also continuing to be available to play in the club’s domestic and European campaigns next season.

Jones  said: “Alan has done an excellent job in the development of the Club in the past two years and has provided stability and consistency. Saracens have also developed their own distinct style of play under Alan and he has put in place a great platform on which we can build.

“Now we have to take that forward and we’ve put in place a coaching team that I believe can do just that. As Alan and I have known and worked with each other for many years, the transition period has been seamless and now I’m looking forward to starting work with the new coaching team and also the players.

“Alex Sanderson was an international forward with England and while his playing career was cut short, he has developed into an excellent coach in the past two years with the support of Saracens and through his own hard work with Queensland and England U18s.

“Paul Gustard has had a terrific career in rugby and has shown he has the temperament, knowledge and ability to develop into a good coach and his appointment along with that of Sanderson is not just exciting for Saracens, but also for the English game to have homegrown coaches coming through the system.

“Cobus Visagie has shown throughout his career that he is one of the best exponents of the scrum in the world game and that experience and technical knowledge will be invaluable to the Club both on and off the pitch as he will continue to have a playing role.

“We are also in discussions with Richard Hill about him playing a role in the development of our young players. Talks are progressing well but nothing has been finalised.”

Jones has already been busy adding to the playing squad for the 2008/09 campaign with England captain Steve Borthwick, former Wales captain Michael Owen and South African World Cup winner Wikus van Heerden joining Saracens and the Director of Rugby revealed that further signings may follow.

“Those three are excellent players and will add significant strength and leadership to an already talented squad,” said Jones. “Further signings may follow and while we’ve already signed three internationals who are in the prime of their careers, at the same time we have also added the England U20 trio of Noah Cato, Alex Goode and Andy Saull to the first team squad next season and that is important in terms of the balance of the squad and also for Saracens in the years to come.”

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