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Vesty thrilled by competition for places across Saints’ squad

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We sat down with Head Coach, Sam Vesty, ahead of Northampton Saints’ Gallagher Premiership match against Newcastle Falcons this weekend…Q: We’ll start by looking back on last Sunday’s 40-36 victory at Wasps, how exactly did Northampton Saints manage to win that game? SV: We showed a boatload of resolve, a boatload of never-say-die attitude and that’s a massive positive to take out of that game. There were plenty of things for us to work on and get better at – I thought in the first half we lost the territory battle and ended up playing in our own half too much. That always puts you under pressure, but to take the positives out of it, fair play to come back from where we were.Q: Just how big was it to get a win after being on the wrong end of some tight finishes in previous weeks? SV: Obviously, it’s what you want. Ultimately, we’ve played quite well over the course of the season so far. Even though there is plenty for us to get better at, we’ve performed OK, and if we keep performing well and perform for longer periods of time, then by the end of the year we’ll be a good, healthy place, and that’s when the points really do count. Q: Obviously, the circumstances surrounding Fin Smith’s immediate arrival from Worcester Warriors are not ideal, but how happy are you to sign such a promising young fly-half for the long term? SV: Fin’s a cracking young fly-half. I’m really looking forward to working with him and seeing where his game goes, and how he fits in with the Club as well with the group of fly-halves we already have in Dan Biggar, James Grayson and Matthew Arden. We do lots of due diligence on the players we get, we watch a lot of footage, we try and do a bit of a deep dive into them on and off the pitch. That involves speaking to people and getting character references, and all of that. He ticks a lot of boxes off the field and has a lot of talent on the field.

Q: Does he also provide some extra cover at fly-half for when Dan Biggar is on international duty? 
SV: He does, and it will be a really good scrap for that No.10 jersey and who will play the majority of the games. It will be really interesting and I hope that those boys all push each other, as we want in all of our positions, to have that competition for a place and competition for a start to get the best out of each of our individuals. 

Q: Speaking of Biggs, he had to come off at Wasps, can you give us an update on how he is? 
SV: He’s got a knee injury and he’s going to be out for a number of weeks. Fin is not actually fit just yet either – he is coming back from a jaw injury, but we’re looking forward to getting him involved sooner rather than later. Jimmy got through some work in the Cup during the week but we got him off nice and early knowing that he would be involved this weekend, and he’ll be looking to lay down a marker for sure.

Q: Is there also any news on Courtney Lawes’ recovery from the head injury he picked up against Leicester? 
SV: He’s progressing through the GRTP (Graduated Return to Play) and he’s progressing positively. He’s not in full contact training yet, but he is running. 

Q: Looking at the Premiership Rugby Cup games against Saracens and Harlequins, how pleased were you with how those went? 
SV: The boys who were involved have really put their hands up. There is real competition for places in all of the squad to play and people have come through from the PRC to play in the first team. They know there is a pathway there and whilst there is that competition, people will keep pushing and pushing and pushing in training. I thought the boys were good and got a couple of good wins. 

Q: How much has it done for some of the younger players who were involved in those games? 
SV: 
The young lads have done excellently. George Patten, just off the top of my head, is a guy who, a couple of years ago, I was watching play at fly-half alongside my son at school. Last week he got his first senior scrum penalty against Harlequins! That guy has done very well and shown his character. I was very impressed with that.

Content & Images from – Northampton Saints Rugby


Premiership

Tom Wood to captain Barbarians for showdown with Saints

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Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTSSaturday 26 November 2022cinch Stadium at Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 Jonah Holmes14 Zach Kibirige13 Luther Burrell12 Owen Williams11 Marland Yarde10 Danny Cipriani9 Gareth Simpson1 Murray McCallum2 Hika Elliot3 Brok Harris4 Graham Kitchener5 Elliott Stooke6 Ben Morris7 Olly Robinson8 Tom Wood (c)Replacements:16 Tevita Ikanivere17 Ben Harris18 Elliot Millar-Mills19 Lloyd Ashley20 Will Boyde21 Francois Hougaard22 Mali Hingano23 Perry Humphreys

Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.

The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.

Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.

Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.

Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.

Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.

And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.

A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.

BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Saturday 26 November 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 Jonah Holmes
14 Zach Kibirige
13 Luther Burrell
12 Owen Williams
11 Marland Yarde
10 Danny Cipriani
9 Gareth Simpson

1 Murray McCallum
2 Hika Elliot
3 Brok Harris
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Elliott Stooke
6 Ben Morris
7 Olly Robinson
8 Tom Wood (c)

Replacements:
16 Tevita Ikanivere
17 Ben Harris
18 Elliot Millar-Mills
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Will Boyde
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Mali Hingano
23 Perry Humphreys

Content & Images from – Northampton Saints Rugby


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Premiership

TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears

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Sam James makes his 200th Sharks appearance, Cobus Wiese and Akker van der Merwe return from injury and Rouban Birch and Kieran Wilkinson are rewarded for their cup heroics with places on the replacements bench for the Saturday lunchtime Premiership clash with Bristol Bears (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport).

Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez also return to the Sharks line-up after featuring for South Africa A, while Jono Ross captains the side for the round 11 showdown with Pat Lam’s men.

Springbok hooker Van der Merwe returns to the number two shirt after six weeks out with an ankle injury picked up against London Irish in October, and he takes his place in the front row between the experienced pair of Ross Harrison and Nick Schonert.

Wiese also returns from ankle lay-off to partner Josh Beaumont in the second row, while the Du Preez twins line-up alongside skipper Ross in the back row.

Gus Warr lines up again at scrum-half alongside fly-half Rob du Preez, and in the centres, Sam Hill starts with the ever-present Sam James, who plays his 200th game for his boyhood club.

Tom Roebuck and Byron McGuigan start on the wings, with full-back Joe Carpenter making up a pacy back three.

Academy products Tommy Taylor and fit-again Simon McIntyre provide front-row cover on the bench, along with Joe Jones, who will be playing his 50th Sharks game if he takes the field.

Sam Dugdale and Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup player of the match Birch cover the rest of the forwards.

Joe Simpson, Wilkinson and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.

Sale Sharks Starting XV:

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Jono Ross ©, 8. Daniel du Preez

Replacements:

16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Rouban Birch, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Arron Reed.

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Falcons forward heads to France

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Thursday 24 November 2022

Lock-forward George Merrick has left Newcastle Falcons to join a French club with immediate effect.

The 30-year-old has made 13 appearances since joining from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2021, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the club.

Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “George has been offered an exciting playing opportunity over in France and we wish him all the best for his move.

“He has been a positive presence around our squad during his time here, and on behalf of the entire coaching team I’d like to thank him for his contribution.”

Merrick said: “I’ve loved my time in Newcastle with a great bunch of boys, and I’m looking forward now to this new challenge.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby


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