Northampton Saints: No room at the inn
Chris Boyd and Northampton Saints made a number of waves last season with their recruitment, when they announced the post-Rugby World Cup signings of veteran All Black Owen Franks and former Hurricanes standout Matt Proctor.
A combination of those high-profile signings from New Zealand and the opportunities that Boyd has handed to the young academy graduates at the club have heralded a new era in Northampton, one which has seen them start the Gallagher Premiership season strongly, as well as winning their opening Heineken Champions Cup game against Lyon.
According to the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, Boyd was open on his recruitment plans during a season ticket holders forum at Franklin’s Gardens on Tuesday.
“It’s really interesting because we’ve now got our contracting spreadsheet out to about the 2025/26 season. We’ve even got some young boys’ names in the Academy for three or four years’ time so we’re trying to predict where the holes are going to be and where we need to fill them if people retire or move on.
“The interesting thing short term is that our team for next season is almost full. We have no room to recruit a back unless we lose one, and we’ve probably only got room to recruit a couple of forwards if we want to. We will continue to stick to a policy of young and English, and you will see that we’ve avoided the temptation this year of chasing anyone with a big name, high profile and expensive ticket.
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“Because what’s going to happen with all of these youngsters is that they’re going to come up. We’re getting reasonably good value out of them at the moment because they’re in their first contracts, but in four years’ time, it’s going to be a big job to keep them all.
“We’re going to have to be really smart about how we keep those because I’m convinced that if we can keep the spine of this team together from young, English, local boys, that’s the best place we can come from.”
With Saints having blooded so many of their academy graduates over the last year – and profited from improved performances on the pitch – it is a smart move from Boyd to keep the salary cap space to hand out the inevitably larger second contracts that they are set to sign.
“I don’t know but I know I have got 34 players and I’m struggling and others have 48 quality players and aren’t so I suspect we’re not all the way there yet"https://t.co/JRXYd659Ec
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2019
RugbyPass understands that one of those potential new forward signings that the club has the scope to make following the retirements of Dylan Hartley and Heinrich Brussow is Saracens lock Joel Kpoku. The England U20 product is hungry for more playing time and with Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Will Skelton and Nick Isiekwe all ahead of him at the reigning European champions, a move up to Northampton could yield promising returns for the talented 20-year-old.
Kpoku is set to join Northampton’s own contingent of academy stars, including Alex Coles, who he played alongside in the England U20 side, as well as fellow forwards Ehren Painter, Toby Trinder and former Gloucester product JJ Tonks. In the backs, the likes of Fraser Dingwall, Ollie Sleightholme, James Grayson and Alex Mitchell have all already begun stamping their authority on the senior game, in what is a youthful and increasingly exciting Northampton squad.
One thing that could alter Boyd’s plans, however, is if Montpellier’s rumoured move for Cobus Reinach comes to fruition. Per reports, the French side are so keen on the South African Rugby World Cup-winner, that they are willing to pay Northampton compensation in order to get him out of his contract now, rather than at the end of the season, in which case Saints would not only have extra cap space, they would also find their coffers replenished.
WATCH: The Rugby Pod react to Saracens not appealing the salary cap sanctions
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