18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
'Throughout the appointment process I kept on comingback to the fact that nothing I was seeing was any better than what we already had in place. As pre-season training got underway, the reports from the players and other coaches have been very impressive and it became obvious that the natural successor was already in place. The seal of approval came last week when I discussed the appointment with the senior players and Taine Randell who endorsed my decision.
'I've obviously known Rod since our days back at ACT Brumbies where he played a big role in our success from 1996. He then moved to Leicester for a two year spell before agreeing to join us back in May. He originally came on board as a player coach but now he has got his teeth into the role over the summer, he was keen to extend it and after discussion he emerged as the perfect choice to carry us forwards.
'Rod has the respect of the players and the staff and we have talked at length about our vision for the club and our game.'
Rod's playing boots will only be coming out on the training pitch from now on as he concentrates on his new role. The players are firmly behind their CEO's appointment and the work for the new season is already well underway. Rod's next task is to make an appointment with a view to tackling specialist forward coaching which is expected to be confirmed in the next few days and then to get his troops ready for the 2003/2004 season.
'I'm really pleased to have been appointed the new Head Coach at Saracens,' expressed Rod. 'I had only planned to play during the World Cup, but when the opportunity arose I didn't have to think too long about hanging my boots up a few months early. 'Pre-season training has been going well and when Mark discussed the opportunity with me, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I've been involved with a lot of decisions in relation to the new season at the club and have contributed to discussions on the make-up of the team that has been put together both on and off the pitch.
'I've effectively been leading the coaching since July and our discussions centred on the fact that there was a good amount of continuity already within the camp and we wanted to build on it.
'The new conditioning team has been working very hard with the players over the last four weeks and we will begin to start focusing on unit and individual skills as the season approaches. 'Inevitably the question will be raised about our goals and aspirations for the upcoming season. I don't want to try and predict the future, so our focus will be performance related. Improving our conditioning levels and defensive strategies are going to be our core areas of work right up until the season starts.
Saracens take on Roma in the1st Round of their European Challenge Cup campaign, commencing on the weekend of 5/6/7th December