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Jim Mallinder

EnglandJim Mallinder has hit out at the way this crucial period of Northampton’s season has been undermined by the RFU’s unofficial approaches to his backs coach, Alex King, to become part of the England setup.

“As a club, we’ve had no official contact at all, so we’re in the dark,” he said. “Alex King is a key part of our coaching staff. We’re in a vital part of the season building up to a massive game this week. What you don’t want to hear is that somebody is talking to one of your coaches.”

Eddie Jones, England’s new head coach, met King before Northampton’s 9 – 9 home draw with Racing 92. Jones has indicated that he will look after England’s attack but it is thought he might be interested in King as an assistant in that department, which may yet allow for a part-time arrangement whereby King continues with Northampton.

Should the RFU try to prise King away, Northampton have two models to choose from for their next move – that of Saracens, who have agreed to release Paul Gustard as defence coach (although they received an official approach from the RFU), or Bristol, who are demanding punitive compensation for the signature of Steve Borthwick as coach of the forwards.

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