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'Hope I can do them proud': Northampton sign Italy's Callum Braley

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Northampton Saints have completed the signing of ex-Gloucester scrum-half Callum Braley ahead of the 2022/23 season, with the Italian international set to arrive at Franklin’s Gardens this summer from Benetton. The 27-year-old was born in Bristol but qualifies for the Azzurri through his grandfather. He boasts 13 caps to date for Italy and is part of Kieran Crowley’s squad for the current Six Nations championship.

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“I’m really excited to sign for a huge club in Northampton and return to the Gallagher Premiership,” said Braley. “My experience over in Italy has been fantastic and I feel like I have grown as a person and a player, but I am ready for a return to England and to challenge for silverware with Saints.

“Northampton players are encouraged to express themselves on the field and I love the way the team plays. It’s clear to me there is a great environment to develop as a player at Franklin’s Gardens and there are exciting times ahead with the coaching group that has been put in place for next season.

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“I remember how passionate the Northampton supporters are from my time in the Premiership, and I hope I can do them proud next season.”

After coming through the academy at his hometown club, Bristol Bears, Braley switched to Gloucester in 2014 where he notched up over a century of appearances. His form at Kingsholm saw him selected for Italy ahead of the 2019 World Cup, making his full international debut in a warm-up match against Ireland before featuring twice at the tournament in Japan against Canada and South Africa.

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A move over to Italy with United Rugby Championship side Benetton followed, with Braley moving to Treviso in 2020 to play his club rugby alongside a number of his international teammates, and he was part of the side which claimed a surprise victory over the Bulls in the 2021 PRO14 Rainbow Cup final last June, a historic first success in an international competition for any Italian club.

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The No9 was also an England age-group international from U16 level upwards and skippered the successful defence of England U20s’ Junior World Championship back in 2014. Saints attack coach Sam Vesty added: “Callum is someone who has really impressed us with his all-round quality. His basics are strong and his ability to get the ball up and moving quickly suits the way we play.

“He has also got superb leadership qualities, playing at the highest level internationally, and boasts experience across multiple leagues. So we are confident he can add a lot to our young group of scrum-halves who are all already pushing each other to improve constantly.”

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