Northampton Saints have announced new contract deals for eleven of their current squad.
The Saints have been much maligned this season. Having finished rock bottom of their European Champions Cup pool, one would think that they would have been afforded more time to focus on their domestic campaign.
A glance at the Guinness Premiership table quickly attests to the fact that things have been far from easy domestically too. The Saints, previously such a totemic force, currently sit eighth of twelve sides having last week been downed by seventh place Newcastle Falcons by 15 points.
The Franklin’s Gardens faithful are understandably in need of positive news and today perhaps marks the most positive update they have heard in some time. As announced on the Northampton Saints website, the club have announced eleven new contract deals for players currently at the club. While many fans may crave the more exuberant transfer spending exhibited by the likes of Bristol, today’s announcement is positive nonetheless and points to a stability going forward.
Those in question are a mix of experienced players and the more raw talent currently in the club’s ranks. Christian Daly, Luther Burrell and Ken Pisi have all re-signed, having each made over 100 appearances for the club. That trio are joined in penning new deals by hookers Charlie Clare and Reece Marshall, lock Jordan Onojaife and centres Rory Hutchinson and Tom Stephenson, each of whom would be on the other end of the scale in terms of experience.
Centre Juan Pablo Estelles, back rower Ben Nutley and scrum-half Tom Kessell complete the eleven re-signings.
Speaking in the wake of the announcement, director of rugby Jim Malinder was quoted as saying:
“We’re delighted to have agreed these new contracts. Some of these players have been core members of the most successful period in the Saints’ history and we believe that they have a lot to offer both in terms of their play on the pitch and leadership qualities.
“It’s also fantastic to have a very good group of younger players who have come through the Saints Academy and are now members of the first team squad. It’s important that we produce our own home-grown players who are able to compete for starting places alongside more experienced internationals, a combination which has been successful for us in the past.
“To compete at the highest level of the competitions we play in we need a squad that has a lot of quality and strength in depth and all of these players are important members of the group we have at Franklin’s Gardens.”
While this season may have passed them by, the Saints look primed to make amends next year given the exciting blend of experience and youth at the club, which today’s announcement makes clear.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena
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