ANDY KEY has spoken of his shock after being axed by Leeds Carnegie – with a big question mark now remaining over the future of head coach Neil Back.
Director of rugby Key was dramatically relieved of his duties on Wednesday evening following a restructuring of the club’s coaching department, with Carnegie currently propping up the Aviva Premiership table following just one win from 12 games this season.
Head coach Back, who arrived at Leeds along with fellow Leicester Tigers stalwart Key in the summer of 2008, was not party to the review and the news regarding Key is also understood to have come as a shock to him. The England playing legend has been placed in sole charge of team matters by Carnegie ahead of Sunday’s top-flight clash at Saracens, although his own future has seemingly been thrown into the air by developments.
On parting company with the club, Key told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was a huge shock on Wednesday night, but I now have to deal with it.
“I’m hugely disappointed. I think the team in what it’s been achieving in the last six to eight weeks has only been demonstrating that the side is very clearly back on track and performing at the level it needs to.
recent results against four very good Premiership sides – albeit with just one win – have shown we’ve been taking them to the wire.”
The developments regarding Key, who was named QBE Director of Rugby of the Season in 2009-10 following Carnegie’s Great Escape from relegation, have stunned the Headingley faithful who are now anxiously waiting to see what the future holds for Back.
Explaining the decision to relinquish Key of his role, chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “It’s part of restructuring of the coaching department operation. There’s an overall review going on and it started with Andy. We’re looking at doing whatever we need to do to say in the division this year.
“I think everybody understands that everybody has got to do what needs to be done to achieve the objective.
“Within the current coaching department, there will be some restructuring, so the current department will absorb Andy’s coaching duties and myself and (rugby operations manager) Chris Gibson will pick up a lot of Andy’s director of rugby responsibilities.
“The intention is not to appoint another director of rugby, but re-allocate the duties. At the end of the season, we’ll look at things again and the focus now is very much on results between now and the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Carnegie have been handed an on-pitch boost for Sunday’s clash at Sarries, with Hendre Fourie and Steve Thompson among 13 players released from England training to play for their clubs this weekend.