Premiership Lowdown: Northampton Saints

Fact-File:

Last season: 7th

Home ground: Franklin’s Gardens (36 miles)

Odds: 40/1

Stuttering Saints:

A deeply disappointing season for Northampton did at least finish on a high as defeated Stade Francias to qualify for the European Champions Cup.

Saints failed to escape from the pool stages of the Champions Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup and never looked like challenging for the play-offs.

Saints’ Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder also faces the new campaign without star forward Louis Picamoles who made a big-money move to Montpellier in the off season.

The fact that Saints could have even dropped down to ninth if they had lost on the final day showcases the scale of the challenge facing Saints.

But Mallinder can still count on Lions tourists George North and Courtney Lawes along with newly re-appointed captain Dylan Hartley whilst there were some positive stories amongst the younger members of the squad.

He will also hope the additions of Piers Francis and Francois van Wyk from Super Rugby can reinvigorate the 2014 Premiership winners with the signing of Bristol duo Mitch Eadie and Jamal Ford-Robinson perhaps signalling a more youthful outlook at Franklin’s Gardens.

Ins and Outs:

In:

David Ribbans (Stormers), Mitch Eadie (Bristol), Jamal Ford-Robinson (Bristol), Rob Horne (Waratahs), Cobus Reinach (Sharks), Piers Francis (Blues), Francois van Wyk (Western Force)

Outs:

Calum Clark (Saracens), Ethan Waller (Worcester Warriors), JJ Hanrahan (Munster), Lee Dickson (Bedford Blues), Howard Packman (Bedford Blues), Sion Bennett (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Denman (Gloucester), Sam Olver (Worcester Warriors), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Sam Dickinson (released), Adam Parkins (released), George Pisi (released), Jake Ilnicki (released), James Wilson (released)

Last season v Wasps:

Premiership Round 4: Northampton Saints 15-20 Wasps

Premiership Round 19: Wasps 32-30 Northampton Saints

Dates for the diary:

Northampton Saints v Wasps: October 28 2017; 15:00

Wasps v Northampton Saints: April 28 2018; kick-off to be confirmed

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