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'I'll come back one day': Teimana Harrison quits Northampton

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Northampton have confirmed one of the worst kept secrets of 2022 – that former England back-rower Teimana Harrison will depart the club at the end of the season. The New Zealander has long been linked with a switch to France, with ambitious Pro D2 club Provence poised to get his signature. The 29-year-old has spent a decade at Franklin’s Gardens, making 183 appearances and scoring 26 tries. “While we are disappointed to see Teimana move on, we respect that he has made this decision with his family’s future in mind,” explained Phil Dowson, Saints’ incoming director of rugby.

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“We know that Saints supporters love watching Tei play. He is dogged in attack and in defence, always punches above his weight, and you know that he will empty the tank every time he steps onto the field. He has been totally committed to the club over the past decade, but now he has decided the time is right for a change of lifestyle for his family and a new experience of rugby overseas.

“We are blessed with plenty of depth in the back row but are also active in our efforts to strengthen in that space ahead of the 2022/23 season. For now, Tei is firmly focused on ensuring that Saints end this campaign on a high note and we will wish him the best for the future after that.”

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Harrison arrived in Northampton in 2011 after being scouted by Dylan Hartley during a visit to his old school in Rotorua during the World Cup in New Zealand, initially joining the club’s senior academy before transitioning into the first team.

His breakthrough came during the 2015/16 campaign when he made 27 appearances for Northampton, earned the first of five caps for England, and scooped the club’s breakthrough player, supporters’ player and players’ player of the season awards. Harrison played a key role in Saints’ most recent trophy success, scoring a try in the final when they lifted the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2018/19.

Harrison said: “I feel humbled to have been a part of Northampton Saints for the last ten years. I love playing for the club and I love living in Northamptonshire, so this has not been an easy decision for me to make and I’m sure my family and I will come back one day. But I have been given the opportunity to experience a different league and style of rugby, and my family are looking forward to the new adventure ahead of us.

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“Saints will always be a very special club to me. The players and staff here are like my brothers, and I want to thank all the supporters who have given me so many happy memories over the years – I’ll be giving everything I have to finish off this season with some silverware.”

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