Two 20-year-olds have shown their faith in the Chris Boyd project at Northampton, agreeing to contract extensions to remain at Franklin’s Gardens. Ollie Sleightholme and Connor Tupai, a pair of academy graduates, have both impressed in the first team so far this season having followed in their respective fathers’ footsteps at the club
Winger Sleightholme, the son of England international Jon, first linked up with the academy seven years ago. He progressed through the ranks to make his full debut last season, taking just 15 seconds to score on his first Gallagher Premiership appearance against Wasps.
That kicked off a superb run of scoring for the fleet-footed runner, who currently boasts ten tries in just 17 first-team appearances so far. He has also represented England Sevens in the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, and England U20s in 2019 and 2020.
Meanwhile, scrum-half Tupai – the son of Paul who played three seasons in the Saints backs row between 2005 and 2008 – made his first-team debut in last season’s Premiership Rugby Cup and has since made his breakthrough this campaign.
Director of rugby Boyd has trusted the Rotorua-born No9 in several key Saints clashes this term – including Gallagher Premiership victories over Worcester Warriors and Harlequins, as well as both Champions Cup ties against Leinster.
“Obviously I’m thrilled to be staying with Saints and to be given the opportunity to continue to develop myself as a player,” said Tupai. “The culture within the squad is incredible, the coaches have a brilliant track record of bringing through young players, and the club means an awful lot to my family and I. It was an easy decision to sign on again, as Saints ticks every box for me.”
Sleightholme added: “I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this squad. We have a really diverse back three and the competition to play is really high – as a young player, you want to be able to prove yourself amongst the most talented guys.
“This group got a taste of winning silverware again last season and now we’re pushing on for more of the same. It’s such a special feeling to know the town is behind us every time we run out at Franklin’s Gardens, so we want to deliver for them week in, week out.”
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