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May 20, 2013

Aviva Premiership final sold out

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 05/20/2013

This Saturday's Aviva Premiership title-decider between Leicester Tigers and Northampton has sold out faster than any previous final.

"The appeal of Aviva Premiership Rugby is at an all-time high and selling out the final so quickly this year is great news for professional club rugby in England," said Premiership Rugby's commercial director Dominic Hayes following confirmation that all 82,000 tickets had been sold.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Premiership final has sold out with the game set to be broadcast exclusively live on ESPN.

May 10, 2013

Saints train on artificial surface ahead of semi

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 05/10/2013

Northampton Saints have trained on an artificial pitch this week ahead of their Aviva Premiership semi-final showdown against Saracens at Allianz Park.

Sarries are the only Premiership side to have an artificial pitch and are yet to be beaten on the hi-tech playing surface having won all six games staged there since they moved in back in February. In a bid to ready themselves for the challenge, Saints have utilised the 3G pitch at Tresham College near Kettering.

"The lads enjoy playing on it. It makes for a fast surface," Saints boss Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton. "This is slightly narrower than the Saracens pitch, but in terms of the shock absorbency and the surface it's very similar."

"A couple of them have complained about their knees being a bit sore, probably because they're not used to it," he said. "It's fast. I guess there will be tries involved in the game. You can understand why breakdowns seem quick. The lads seem to be running quick and they've got that sense of it being a fast track. But the pitch is not something we're going to get too worried about."

April 19, 2013

Northampton Saints bring in Otago duo

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/19/2013

Northampton have bolstered their resources ahead of next season with the signing of Glenn Dickson and Rob Verbakel from Otago.

Dickson is a versatile goal-kicking back who can play at both fly-half and in the centres while Verbakel, who had previously turned ouf for Glasgow, is a second-row. Saints boss Jim Mallinder commented on the signings saying: "We are always looking to improve and add more depth to our squad, and we believe that Glenn and Rob can excel in our Aviva Premiership, European and Anglo-Welsh campaigns.

"Both players have experience playing in a successful team in a tough competition and we have been impressed by what we have seen. They will be able to add an extra dimension to how we play. We're very happy that they have chosen to come to the Saints and are looking forward to them joining us in the summer."

February 26, 2013

Falcons recruit Noah Cato

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/26/2013

Newcastle Falcons have completed the signing of Northampton Saints winger Noah Cato until the end of the season.

Cato has found his first-team opportunities limited at Franklin's Gardens and he is relishing the chance to run out for the Falcons. “To be a part of a club with the ambition of returning back to the Premiership presents an exciting time ahead for me," Cato said. “To assist in realising that goal will be a fulfilling experience."

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards added: “Noah is a great addition to the squad, and I am delighted to welcome him to Kingston Park.He brings with him both club and international experience which is just what we require going into the play-offs."

February 24, 2013

Lee Dickson relishing Kahn Fotuali'i challenge

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/24/2013

Northampton Saints scrum-half Lee Dickson is adamant that he can fend off the challenge of
Kahn Fotuali'i
who is joining the side at the end of the season.

Fotuali'i is widely regarded to be one of the world's premier scrum-halves and despite the threat to his spot in the side, first-choice No.9 Dickson is looking forward to welcoming the Samoan to Franklin's Gardens. "You play rugby because you want to be challenged," Dickson told the Rugby Paper. "I am a very competitive person and him coming is going to really drive me on as a player.

"It will spur me on to play better and make sure I am on my top game the whole time I go out there. All I've got to do is play well and keep my shirt for the Saints. We are two different types of scrum-half who play different styles. Each game we go into the Saints will be able to choose from two scrum-halves."

February 21, 2013

James Wilson signs new Saints deal

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/21/2013

Winger James Wilson has signed a new contract with Aviva Premiership side Northampton.

The New Zealander, 29, joined the club last summer from French club Bourgoin and Saints boss Jim Mallinder was delighted to secure his services on a new deal. "We have been impressed by James in his short time at the club," he said. "He has played well in a number of positions and gives us plenty of flexibility within the squad. He has a strong skill set and understands the game well."

February 20, 2013

Cockerill confirms interest in Ryan Lamb

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/20/2013

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has confirmed that Northampton Saints fly-half Ryan Lamb is on the club's radar ahead of next season.

"With George Ford leaving we need cover at 10. We need more goalkickers within the squad. [Lamb] is one of the guys that is available, along with several others. There is a little bit of a merry-go-round on the fly-half front across the Premiership," Cockerill told BBC Sport. "When we are ready to sign people we will make that announcement, but at this point there is nothing to tell. In the current market place you have to look at everybody. We are looking at guys to play as back-up to Toby Flood and if they are better they will play.

"Ryan is one of those, but there are lot so guys. There are plenty of others and there are a few other options outside the Premiership as well."

Stephen Myler extends Northampton stay

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/20/2013

Northampton Saints fly-half Stephen Myler has penned a new contract that will keep him at the club for the "foreseeable future".

Myler has been at the Saints since 2006 and has scored 1,427 points for the side. And despite reported interest from Leicester, Myler has opted to extend his stay with the Aviva Premiership team. "I've obviously been here for a while," Myler said. "I love the club, love the supporters and it's a great group of lads. We've achieved a lot together already and I'm genuinely excited about where the team is going. We've shown a lot of ambition with the calibre of players that will be joining the club next season and Alex King is someone I've also heard only good things about."

Saints boss Jim Mallinder added: "Time and again Stephen has shown that he is a very good player and someone who we can build the team around. He has an intelligent approach to the game, and a superb work ethic on and off the field. We're very happy that he has signed a new contract with the Saints."

February 8, 2013

Christian Day handed three-week ban

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/08/2013

Northampton lock Christian Day has been suspended for three weeks by an RFU disciplinary panel for stamping on an opponent during last Saturday's Anglo-Welsh Cup match at Exeter.

The player had been charged with the offence contrary to law 10.4 (b) following a report by the citing officer Matt Bayliss. Day, who pleaded guilty at last night's hearing, is suspended from February 7 until February 27 and is free to play again the following day.

February 4, 2013

Saints bring in Australia's Salesi Ma'afu

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/04/2013

Northampton Saints have announced the signing of Australian Test prop Salesi Ma'afu ahead of next season.

With Soane Tonga'uiha, Brian Mujati and Paul Doran-Jones all leaving the club at the end of the current campaign, they have opted to bolster their front-row with the 13-cap Wallaby. "We have been impressed by what we have seen from Salesi," Saints boss Jim Mallinder said. "He has built up a good reputation as one of the top props in Australia and has been a big part of the Wallabies' recent improvements in the set piece.

"Salesi will add a great deal to our group of props and the squad in general going into next season, and we're looking forward to welcoming him to Franklin's Gardens later in the year."

January 29, 2013

Harlequins confirm Paul Doran-Jones capture

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/29/2013

Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins have announced the signing of Northampton and England prop Paul Doran-Jones on a two-year contract.

He will step into the shoes left by James Johnston who will join Saracens at the end of the season. “While we were disappointed to lose James Johnston we recognise the need to have an experienced player to come in to supplement the existing tight head talent we have at the club in Will Collier and Kyle Sinckler," Conor O'Shea said. "With that in mind we are very fortunate to be able to bring in a player of Paul's ability.

“Not only is Paul talented, at his age he will only get better. He comes from a fabulous club and has been coached by one of the best forwards coaches in the country so I have no doubt he will add greatly to what we have at Harlequins."

January 18, 2013

Alex Corbisiero plays down concerns over injury

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 01/18/2013

England prop Alex Corbisiero has rubbished the suggestion that he is suffering from a "degenerative" knee injury.

Corbisiero's troublesome injury was recently described that way by London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith but the player himself insists that comment was misleading. "Degenerative is definitely incorrect and it was maybe the wrong phrase to use," Corbisiero told PA Sport. "It is not really any effect on my career or anything like that. It just needs time to get 100%."

The 24-year-old will miss the start of England's Six Nations campaign but is hoping to play some part in the championship. "My knee will get better, it will settle down. I have been reassured by everyone," he said. "It has been a frustrating injury for me, to come back from my surgery and have it flare up again. I am letting it settle down to get 100% healthy so I can push on again. I can't rush it. I am hoping to be back playing in the next couple of weeks."

January 16, 2013

Doran-Jones set to join Harlequins

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

On the day Northampton confirmed the signing of Alex Corbisiero ahead of next season, their coach Dorian West has revealed that they are likely to lose England prop Paul Doran-Jones to Harlequins.

The Saints announced Alex Waller and Tom Mercey’s decisions to re-sign with the club earlier on Wednesday and also announced the recruitment of Corbisiero. But West believes that Doran-Jones will depart the club to fill the gap left by James Johnston at Harlequins.

“It’s pretty common knowledge that we’re losing Soane [Tonga'uiha] and Brian [Mujati] to Racing and I think we’re losing Doran-Jones to Harlequins as well,” West told the Northamptonshire Telegraph. “But we’ve got three good, young props we’ve signed there and we’re looking to add to those.”