Northampton Saints today director of rugby Jim Mallinder has committed himself to the club until at least 2013.
On the eve of their final push for Heineken Cup quarter-final qualification, Mallinder has given his players a timely boost by signing an extended contract that adds two more years to his previous deal, which runs to 2011.
"Jim has turned the team around in his two-and-a-half years here and the Board and I believe he is in the process of building something very special," said Saints chief executive Allan Robson.
"We wanted to ensure that this can continue, which is why we offered him a contract extension and are delighted he has signed it. I believe all the club's supporters will be as happy as we are that Jim has committed himself to the Saints for at least a further two years.
"He has built a team that is playing stylish and successful rugby and is building on the foundations laid over the past two-and-a-half years. Northampton Saints is a club that is hungry for success, on and off the field, and we believe that Jim can continue delivering this in the near future."
Under Mallinder the Saints team has progressed on a steady upward curve, from the undefeated 2007/08 National League One campaign, through Amlin Challenge Cup success, to being in contention for a place in the last eight of the Heineken Cup. Currently lying second in Pool 1, two points behind Munster, they face Perpignan at Franklin's Gardens in round 5 before heading to Thomond Park for a crucial game in the last round.
The current Amlin Challenge Cup holders, Saints are targeting a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, but could find themselves in line to defend their Amlin title if they don't make the grade. This season the third, fourth and fifth best runners-up in the Heineken Cup Pools will join the five Pool winners in the Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out phase.
"We still have a lot of improvement to make as a team. The players, coaches and all the backroom staff have worked very hard to be in contention in all three competitions we are in this season," added Mallinder.
"I want us to stay at the top end of the Guinness Premiership and become regular contenders in the Heineken Cup over the next three years. I believe we can achieve this, which is why I have decided to extend my stay for another two years."