James Shanahan appointed Plymouth Albion boss

By Brent PilnickBBC South West Sport
Shanahan targets top-eight finish

Plymouth Albion have appointed former Cambridge boss James Shanahan as their new head coach.

Shanahan, 36, has signed a two-year deal at the Brickfields, with an option for an extra year.

The former Cornish Pirates and Bedford player has spent the past three seasons as director of rugby at National One side Old Albanians.

Shanahan takes over from Nat Saumi after it was revealed that

The centre spent half of the 2002-3 season at Albion as a player before moving to Exeter and has also played for the Cornish Pirates and Bedford.

He has scored 11 tries in 22 games for Old Albanians this season and says he will register as a Plymouth player next season, but does not expect to play for Albion.

"It's something that I really want to do, be a head coach in the Championship, and I'm looking forward to it," Shanahan told BBC South West Sport.

"I've done an eight-year apprenticeship as coach at Cambridge, Cambridge University and Old Albanians and it's my chance to work in a full-time environment at one of the top 24 clubs in the country.

"I'm a very attack-minded coach, I enjoy playing attacking rugby, coaching it and watching it so that's key for me.

"If we can play that style, and be successful, which I have been and believe I can be here, it gets more people through the gates, gets more interest and more of a buzz."

Shanahan is the fourth man to take charge of Albion in the past 18 months.

But the club say they are confident they have the right person to take charge after a difficult period on and off the field.

Albion almost went into administration at the end of 2011 and finished second-bottom in the Championship last season and third-from-bottom the season before.

But chairman Graham Stirling said: "We've got every confidence that he will do the job for us.

"He comes with top coaching credentials in Rugby Football Union [RFU] level four, he's got a good track record, is easy to communicate with and I think he will do a fantastic job for us."

Shanahan says the club has a lot of potential and hopes to push it higher up English rugby's second tier in the next few seasons.

"It's a huge rugby area, a huge city and [there is] so much potential.

"The facilities are good, it's a great stadium and there are so many rugby players and clubs in the area - we should really be one of the top Championship clubs.

"I want to build a culture and an environment that when players are here they thrive in it and they enjoy it.

"If I can do that then we will attract more players that want to play for Albion.

"I want to be a top-eight side next season and the second year we'll see what happens.

"A play-off place might be too much next year, but top-eight would be my personal goal."

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