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Shanahan tipped to take over at Plymouth Albion while McAtee departs

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 16, 2013

By Sara Raine

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James Shanahan has been tipped to be named as Plymouth Albion's new head coach today.

The Championship side have called a press conference for this afternoon. It is believed that, providing the formalities can be completed in time, the 36-year-old will be announced as outgoing head coach Nat Saumi's replacement at Brickfields.

Shanahan is at present the director of rugby at National League One side Old Albanian. He guided them to promotion last season.

Shanahan, who still plays, has also coached Cambridge to promotion. He is no stranger to the Westcountry, having played for Albion, Exeter and Cornish Pirates. The utility back has also featured for North Walsham, Bedford and Italian club Parma.

Shanahan refused to be drawn yesterday on whether he would be the new man in charged at Brickfields. However, he did confirm that he had been interviewed for the job. It is rumoured that St Albans-based Old Albanian have already started the process of looking for a replacement for him.

Shanahan is a friend of Albion fitness coach James Owen, and he teamed up at Cambridge alongside Ivybridge Community College director of rugby Bob Crooks, who has worked closely with Plymouth this season.

Rhodri McAtee, meanwhile, is the latest experienced player to confirm that he will be leaving Albion this summer.

The former Wales Sevens back, who has had ten years in the Championship with Worcester, Cornish Pirates and Albion, scoring nearly 350 points, has not been offered a new deal at Brickfields.

He joined the club last summer from the Pirates. "I would have liked to have stayed," said McAtee, who has scored six tries this term for Albion. "But I'm not an English qualified player, so I don't fit in with their plans.

"It is disappointing." he added. "I have not decided what I am going to do yet. Everything is a bit up in the air. It might be a case of getting a job, as I don't really want to move out of the area, but we'll have to wait and see."

After a slow start to his Albion career, McAtee has finished strongly. "I struggled a bit with injury at the start of the season," he added. "Then I got moved to full-back and I had never really played there before, but I'm just getting to grips with it now."

McAtee said goodbye to Brickfields last Saturday as Albion lost 25-10 to unbeaten league leaders Newcastle Falcons in their final home fixture this term. He joined fellow experienced players Keni Fisilau, Aaron Carpenter, Sam Hocking, Paul Bailey, Wayne Sprangle and head coach Nat Saumi in saying farewell to the Brickfields crowd.

Albion have missed out on a top-eight finish in the Championship this season, which was their target in recent weeks.

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