Diggin still loves being part of Saints’ match-day picture

Paul Diggin has enjoyed his transformation from player to coach
Paul Diggin has enjoyed his transformation from player to coach

Anyone who has seen Paul Diggin patrolling the touchline during Saints games will see that his passion for the club has certainly not wavered since he finished playing.

The wing-turned-coach puts just as much heart into delivering team orders as he did to scoring 62 tries in 148 games for the club he grew up with.

Diggin is loving life as a coach, having retired as a player in 2014, aged 29.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said.

“Obviously I’m a bit more experienced now. I’m into my third year and I get to do a bit more with the first team now, with the backs and prepare the Wanderers as well.

“It’s fantastic and hopefully I’m growing as a coach and learning more from the great coaches we’ve got here already.

“I’ve been upgraded to tea boy now, so that’s pretty cool.”

And he added: “I love it. It’s great to be involved in a match-day again.

“It’s the nearest you can get to it without being a player any more.

“Obviously I get the messages from the top and relay them on, but I can see what’s going on, talk to the back three, talk defensively and help our players out.

“It’s still cool to be involved.”

Diggin and fellow Academy coach Mark Hopley are the men tasked with shouting at the players from the sidelines during matches, with Jim Mallinder, Dorian West and Alan Dickens often occupying seats in the stands.

But telling players what to do directly can be a hazardous business, especially during the heat of battle.

“I’ve had to learn to use the right language,” Diggin says, smiling.

“Screaming and bellowing at someone like George North, he just switches off and then he tells you to shut up when he gets off afterwards.

“He’s got like 60 caps for Wales, so I shouldn’t really be telling him what to do!

“But it all helps and most of the messages I’m getting from the top, so I just have to relay them on, technical and tactical messages during the game.”

Diggin plays an important part in shaping the future of Saints, coaching the club’s youngsters.

But he says he doesn’t have to tell them, or recruits from overseas, too much about being a Saint, which is something he knows all about.

“I think the players look after that themselves,” Diggin said.

“When they visit the club, the management will meet them and they will know about the history of the club and it will be explained to them.

“I think the players take charge of it and it’s not so much on some old, fat, ginger bloke to do it any more. I just let the new lads do it.”

Saints, who were beaten 27-20 at Leicester Tigers last Saturday, will be asked to show plenty of desire on Friday night as they bid to beat Scarlets and keep their Anglo-Welsh Cup hopes alive.

Jim Mallinder’s must win and hope Saracens fail to beat Leicester at Allianz Park on Sunday.

And Diggin said: “We’re not going to underestimate any team, especially the Scarlets.

“It’s a good opportunity to get another game of rugby in, especially for people who haven’t played much.

“It’s about building momentum back into the league.

“There’s a few hats to be worn and it’s good that we can still put that mixture of youth and experience out there.”