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Northampton Saints sign a Knight and a Falcon

By Ian Cameron
Robbie Smith of Newcastle Falcons and Kyle Cooper of Newcastle Falcons talk line out moves during the Premiership Cup match between Newcastle Falcons and London Wasps at Kingston Park (Photo by Chris Lishman/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Northampton Saints have confirmed the signings of two forwards ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season.

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The news comes after it was revealed by the club that four of their biggest names were being released. Ahsee Tuala, Api Ratuniyarawa, Piers Francis and Taqele Naiyaravoro are all heading for the exit at the end of the season.

Sam Graham (24) joins from Doncaster Knights, whom he captained to an impressive second-place finish in the RFU Championship this season. Graham, a loose forward who joined Doncaster from Bristol Bears two seasons ago, has made 28 appearances for the Knights and was made club captain ahead of the 2021/22 season after winning the Players’and Coaches’ Player of the Year honors during his first year at Castle Park.

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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots
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Hooker Robbie Smith (23) arrives at Franklin’s Gardens from Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons. Smith, who was born in the south-west of Scotland, progressed through the ranks at Newton Stewart and Ayr before joining Glasgow Warriors’ Academy and representing Scotland at the Under-16, Under-18, and Under-20 levels.

In his second of two years with the Under-20s, he captained his country before traveling south of the border to play in the Championship with Saints’ partner club, Bedford Blues.

Both youngsters will join up with Northampton Saints this summer in preparation for Northampton’s preseason campaign, and incoming director of rugby Phil Dowson is excited to have the pair at his disposal.

“Saints have a great track record of uncovering some promising players who have come in and done brilliantly for the Club, and we think Sam and Robbie could be two more,” said Dowson.

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“Sam is one of the most powerful ball-carriers and tacklers in the Championship, and captained Doncaster brilliantly this season. He’s very athletic but what impressed me most was his ambition and his journey; he has worked so hard to forge a career for himself in rugby.

“He was working as a chef in Michelin-star restaurants not so long ago, but he’s very driven and every move he has made has been about giving himself the best opportunity to play regularly. His attitude to training is that it is like preparing for a gourmet dinner – all the graft during the week will pay off come the weekend – and that is music to your ears as a coach.

“Meanwhile I spoke to Mike Rayer at Bedford Blues about Robbie, and again he was very complimentary about his attitude.

“He’s a really good set-piece forward – Matt Ferguson highlighted him for his scrummaging and throwing ability – and around the park he has the potential to be really effective as well in both defence and attack.”

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