Paul Deacon has admitted the shock departure of Steve Diamond as Sale Sharks director of rugby has left him “numb” and insists he does not know why the club has lost its most influential character. Deacon has been put in temporary charge as head coach and would like the chance to make the job permanent, although he insists preparing the team for their daunting European Heineken Cup match in Toulon on Saturday is his only priority in a week that has focussed attention on the Gallagher Premiership outfit.

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Diamond issued a statement yesterday having informed the club in the morning he was quitting the role that has seen him develop a heavily South African influenced squad that will once again be pushing for the title this season.

However, Diamond will not play any further part in the club’s bid for trophies and Deacon said: “Yesterday’s news came as a big shock and it has been a bit mad and hectic. I certainly felt numb and some of the lads felt the same. It hasn’t really sunk in yet and we have just cracked on with the job in hand and we have a big game this week.

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“I found out yesterday morning when I came into work. It was a bit of a surprise and I don’t know the ins and outs. Steve decided to leave for personal reasons and I just want to say what a fantastic job he has done at this club.

“He has left a great legacy and built a squad we believe can compete at the highest level and built a magnificent training facility at Carrington, and I wish him all the best for the future. I spoke to him last night and it was short and sharp and it is an emotional time for everyone. It’s personal to Steve.

“I can’t say for certain this won’t affect the team and we just have to crack on and will have to see what happens this weekend. It hasn’t really sunk in and there are a lot of things flying around my head.

“I am excited (about a full time role) and that is up to the owners and what is right for the club going forward. Dimes has done so much for this club that people don’t know and has given his life to the club. He will be missed by everyone.”

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