Plymouth Albion step up search for new coach and successor to Nat Saumi
PLYMOUTH Albion hope to have a shortlist of candidates to become their new director of rugby drawn up by early next week.
The Championship club, looking to replace Fijian Nat Saumi, who has announced he will leave Brickfields at the end of this season, insist they still have an open mind on the type of person they are looking for.
That contradicts speculation they have already decided on who will become their fourth director of rugby in just 18 months.
Albion's acting chief executive Debbie Fisher told Herald Sport: "Ever since January we have been receiving speculative CVs through agents, but following Nat's announcement lots of people have popped out of the woodwork – some I know the names of, some I don't.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
"I am getting bombarded with CVs at the minute – some quality, some not. I am just trying to screen them out and have those first conversations.
"There is a discussion to be had at the very front end of the process as some people think they will have a six-figure salary. Clearly we have not got that.
"There are also pre-conceptions from some people who think they can manage by living in London for example and commuting, but that is not what the club needs.
"This is a full-time position and, in our opinion, it needs somebody who is going to be resident nearby and giving the role the dedication it requires.
"At the moment it is just a case of gathering formal applications from people who genuinely want to be considered.
"That's the only way we can take it."
Albion chairman Graham Stirling has been in Barbados for the last five weeks but he returns this weekend, which is when the club will look to take their search for Saumi's successor to the next level.
"Graham (Stirling) is fully appraised of the situation," said Fisher.
"We could not leave it until Graham came back. So I am information-gathering and looking at CVs and getting advice on whether people have the credentials.
"The minimum we want is someone with a level two certificate, but we are probably looking for level three or four.
"When Graham gets back I am hoping we will have a shortlist."
Fisher revealed that John Roberts, who has worked as a coach at the club under Saumi and Saumi's predecessors Peter Drewett and Graham Dawe, is helping her compile a shortlist.
"I have agreed with Graham (Stirling) via email that myself and John Roberts will read the CVs," said Fisher.
"John obviously knows a lot more names than I do, but I can cross boxes as anyone would do in a recruitment selection process.
"I can cross people out if they have not got what we are looking for as a minimum basic requirement.
"Then, if they look like they genuinely fit the bill, the next process is having that initial chat to see if they have pre-conceived ideas about what the role might pay and what the minimum is they need to earn.
"If that minimum far exceeds what we have got in the pot then there is no point taking it further.
"The last thing we want is someone compromising their requirements and then feeling hard done by the minute they walk through the door."
Fisher said it was unlikely Albion, who have had some serious financial problems in the last five years, would appoint anyone who has been working at a Premiership club.
She said: "I think what we are more likely looking at is someone who is stepping up from an assistant coach in this division or a head coach from another division, rather than someone who has been associated with the Premiership, mainly because their salary expectations are too high.
"Even some assistant coaches' expectations are too high."
That description would fit the likes of Jon Hill, Harvey Biljon, James Shanahan, Bob Crooks and Dan Parkes, who have all been linked with Albion. Former players Alan Paver and Ed Lewsey, whose brother Josh has just taken a role at the Cornish Pirates, have also been linked with player-coach roles.
Fitness and conditioning coach James Owen, though, will definitely be staying at Brickfields.
Fisher also admitted Roberts is likely to still have a role at Albion, although that might depend on who the new director of rugby is.
Since the end of January, Roberts has taken something of a back seat on the coaching side of things.
Fisher said: "John has not been hands-on coaching at the club recently because he and Nat are both backs-orientated.
"But he has still been involved in terms of strategy, watching videos and giving feedback and analysis.
"What he has also been doing a lot is looking at talented players in the league and giving Nat input on that kind of thing."
Fisher added: "We hope very much John will still continue to help next season, but his actual role at the club will probably depend on who we appoint as head coach/director of rugby.
"But that is another issue. We could go for one of two models.
"We could have a director of rugby and two assistant coaches – a forwards and backs coach – or we could go down the model of having a head coach with a speciality and have a player or assistant coach.
"There is quite a lot of flexibility for the club in how we position it."
She continued: "James Owen is going to continue, which is great. That gives us some continuity going forward.
"Colin Stewart is doing forwards coaching at the moment on a part-time basis with his hours fitted around his other responsibilities.
"If, for example, we get someone with a backs speciality, then it is likely Colin could carry on again next year, if he has the time."
Albion would like to have a new man in place for the start of pre-season training.
Fisher said: "Clearly, we would like them in place by June 1, but that is a big ask.
"It depends on their circumstances. If they are working for another club or school then they are going to have to give notice."