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Premiership Rugby

Mallinder pays tribute to fans

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Speaking about the fans, Mallinder said they played a huge part in the success of the club, testimony to this being their record at home during the season.

"Talk to any of the players and they will tell you that they get a tremendous lift from that vocal support and, to a man, they loved playing at Heywood Road," said Mallinder.

Sharks, whose last match saw them go down by 34-19 to Saracens, missed out on the play-offs involving the top three clubs after finishing fourth, just below Northampton who, although on the same number of points, have won one more game than Sharks.

"Obviously, we were disappointed at missing out on the Zurich Premiership play-offs, but finishing fourth was no mean achievement when you consider where we were just two years ago," said Mallinder.

"It would have been nice to have matched our second-placing of the previous season, or to have gone one better this time, but the standard in the Premiership has risen in the last 12 months.

"That is one reason why it was such an exciting campaign, and held interest right to the final weekend of the scheduled league fixtures."

The Sharks coach also said he was looking forward to the challenge of moving from Heywood Road to their new stadium, Edgeley Park, the home of Stockport County Football Club.

"We are confident that, with the continued backing of our fans, we can turn Edgeley Park into a similar fortress. We are pleased with the stadium and I am sure there will be a tremendous rugby atmosphere, which you can't say about all soccer stadia where Premiership games are played," said a confident Mallinder

Regarding the team for next season, Mallinder, who along with team manager Steve Diamond will coach England on their North American tour next month, felt that the right mix of players would be brought into the club to continue it's solid run in the Premiership.

"We will be losing one or two players and gaining new ones, some names already being known.

"But, basically, we will be developing our existing squad and are confident that we will be challenging for honours again next season."

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