Northampton confirm four big-name players are leaving this summer
Northampton have confirmed that Ahsee Tuala, Api Ratuniyarawa, Piers Francis and Taqele Naiyaravoro will all depart the Gallagher Premiership club at the end of the current season. The experienced quartet has 23 seasons and over 400 appearances for the Saints between them but will move on to pastures new with Phil Dowson set to succeed Chris Boyd as director of rugby at Franklin’s Gardens.
“All four players have made massive contributions to our environment and what we have achieved in recent seasons. They will be missed around our camp when they leave,” said Dowson, the incoming Northampton boss.
“Ace is a genius with the ball in his hands, but he is also an incredible Saintsman and does a lot away from what you will see on the pitch. He is constantly looking after and coaching the youngsters, trying to pass on knowledge, so he has been a big part of our culture for several years now.
“For me, Api has been one of the best heavyweight locks in the Premiership during his time here and works unbelievably hard to both improve his game and develop athletically.
“Off the field, he holds a lot of gravitas within the squad – anyone nicknamed ‘the Sheriff’ or ‘the Boss’ is obviously bound to be a legend of a man – so we will miss having him amongst the group, but he has made a decision with his family’s long-term future in mind.
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“You won’t find many players that work harder than Piers to unlock their very best on the field. He is an awesome athlete who takes great care over his conditioning, but he is also an international-quality centre – which sometimes he doesn’t get the full credit for – who always brings an incredible competitiveness and toughness with him onto the field.
“Last but not least, Taqele is one of very few players who on their day is un-defendable. He can change matches and beat teams on his own with his huge physicality, but his skillset and soft skills are often underrated too. He has been unlucky with injuries the last couple of years and like all of those who are leaving us, we wish him the best for the future.”
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