Saints unhappy as RFU approach King

Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has hit out at the Rugby Football Union after coach Alex King was approached to join Eddie Jones backroom staff.

Jones – who was appointed England head coach after Stuart Lancaster departed following the disastrous World Cup – wants former London Wasps fly-half King to become backs coach.

The duo are understood to have met to discuss the role, but Northampton insists there has been "no formal approach", while Mallinder suggests the Saints have been "kept in the dark" over the situation.

"Alex King is a key part of our coaching staff. We're in a vital part of the season," he said.

"What you don't want to hear by reading in the press or being told is that somebody is talking to one of your coaches."

When asked if Northampton could make an official complaint, Mallinder replied: "We don't want to talk about compensation because we don't know if Alex will be their new backs coach or not.

"It's very early to discuss that. Alex has told me that he's met Eddie and that's all that I know. It's certainly not ideal."

The news comes with similar problems regarded Bristol coach Steve Borthwick.

On Tuesday the RFU announced that former England captain Borthwick – who worked with Jones during the World Cup with Japan – is to become the forwards coach with the national team.

However, Bristol then released a statement which said: "We have not agreed that Steve Borthwick can leave our employment.

"Steve Borthwick is subject to a recently signed long term employment contract. Bristol Rugby did not give the RFU permission to speak with Steve Borthwick."

Former Australia coach Jones has appointed Saracens as defence coach and hopes to have King and Borthwick complete his backroom staff in time for the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 9 – after getting rid of Lancaster's coaching team of Andy Farrell, Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree.