Rugby Union

Northampton Saints confident of retaining Premiership title

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Football News

Northampton Saints ended last season with the Aviva Premiership title after defeating Saracens in the grand final, and now director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes his side could go on to retain their championship.

Saints finished second in the table and edged Leicester Tigers to claim a final spot against the favourites Saracens, but on their day Northampton took the tie to extra time to beat Sarries 24-20 at Twickenham.

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Jim Mallinder

Now as a new season approaches, with Saints taking on Gloucester on the opening day, Mallinder is confident of his teams' chances once again.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the Saints' director of rugby made it clear that retaining their title isn't going to be easy, but understood his team have the quality to do well.

"We're very happy with the squad we have. We have several senior players blended with youth. We're now seeing the fruits of our academy," Mallinder said.

'Without a doubt it will be tight again and it becomes difficult in the autumn when you lose your internationals.

"The teams are improving all the time, so it's a brilliant competition. You can never go into a game half cocked, half baked."

Northampton Saints

Northampton has a number of well-established players among their ranks with a lot of players featuring in a number of autumn internationals earlier in the season.

The squad is full of internationals who will be fighting it out for an place in the 2015 World Cup: Ben Foden, Alex Corbiseiro, George North and Dylan Hartley all have a key roles to play this season.

But in transfers Mallinder has only brought in two players; one through the youth academy while also bringing in 22-year-old Joel Hodgson from Newcastle Falcons.

Dylan Hartley

Hartley also spoke on what Northampton have to do to retain the title, basing it around having already been in that position of chasing the league leaders before.

"As a squad we've been chasing the title for many years and we have finally won it, so we are well aware of what it takes and we will be aware of teams coming after us as well."

Harlety has previously had heartbreak in a Aviva Premiership final being sent-off for swearing at an official in 2013, but has bounced back well to clinch last years' title for Saints.

The 28-year-old is a controversial figure having been banned for eye-gouging on top of foul language, but with his outbursts comes a true leader who can play a pivotal role in how Northampton and England do in the next year.

Northampton have to make sure they don't get lost in the limelight heading into the next season, as they have a brilliant squad and need to put it to good use.

With the squad there is no reason why they can't go on to retain the title, it is just whether Mallinder can blend the players together and repeat what was an impressive season.

There will be tests with the European Champions Cup and International tests, including the Six Nations, but this is where squad-depth comes into it and it will be whether Mallinder has enough quality in his reserves to see them through these difficult periods.

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Northampton Saints
Aviva Premiership
Rugby Union

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