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Why Saracens are 'grateful' for what Saints did with Nick Isiekwe

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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When it comes to the contingent of loan players Saracens sent off to play elsewhere during their year in the Championship, the name of Nick Isiekwe doesn’t garner much focus compared to how Ben Earl and Max Malins were capped by England while at Bristol and Nick Tompkins continued to be chosen by Wales while at Dragons. 

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Northampton had a disappointing campaign last term, getting tailed off in fifth place in the Premiership and failing to fire a shot in Europe, but that didn’t mean there weren’t positives to be gleaned from the work put in under Chris Boyd. 

Isiekwe was 19 when he was first capped by Eddie Jones in 2017 and while his England career has yet to build on his third appearance in June 2018, Saracens believed they are now reaping the reward of the year the lock spent on loan in the Premiership with the Saints rather than remaining in London for the second-tier Championship season. 

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The now 23-year-old, who can also pack down at blindside, is set for his sixth consecutive start this Sunday at Harlequins in Saracens’ campaign back in the Premiership and he is joined in his club’s starting XV by Andy Christie, another academy graduate who has also been impressing boss Mark McCall in recent weeks.  

“Nick is 23 and Andy is 22 – both have come through the academy and both have been at the club for a long time,” said McCall when asked how the pair have been developing. “It is wonderful for us just to see the progress that they are making. 

“Sometimes it is hard. Nick, at 23, seems to have been around for such a long time and he has already achieved quite a lot and has played in some big games for us and been capped by England a couple of times. He had a constructive year at Northampton where they gave him some responsibility which we are really grateful for and he has taken some big responsibility here to call the lineouts, especially when Maro (Itoje) is not here – which is a lot of the time – and we think that is going to valuable for him in the future. 

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“He is a great asset, a hard worker. He is keen to get better, so he is a great guy to have back. Andy has made some big improvements over the last twelve months. He is one of the big beneficiaries of us loaning people out like Ben Earl and Nick. Andy and Sean Reffell played a lot of games in the Championship last year and Andy has just got better and better. He was very good coming off the bench against Bath, he started last weekend and he looked very comfortable. We are really happy with his progress as well.”

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