Diggin gearing up for emotional testimonial appearance

PLAYING FAREWELL - Paul Diggin
PLAYING FAREWELL - Paul Diggin

After 148 appearances, 62 tries and myriad memories, Paul Diggin is about to grace the Franklin’s Gardens turf for the final time.

And it promises to be an emotional moment when he exits the Saints stage at his testimonial match on Sunday.

But although he could be forgiven for doing so, Diggin is determined not to look back.

Instead, he prefers to take a glimpse into a future that will see him continue in his role as a Saints Academy coach.

“I’m pretty sure this will be the last time you see me in the Saints colours on the Franklin’s Gardens pitch,” said the 29-year-old winger.

“It’s sad but it’s the start of something new for me in my coaching role.

“I’ve had a good run, I’m proud of the things I’ve achieved at Northampton and hopefully I can achieve more with the coaching.”

Diggin’s story is a heartwarming one for any rugby player as he came through the ranks at his boyhood club before fulfilling his dream of creating a career with them.

Players such as Bruce Reihana, Tom Smith and Allan Bateman will help him celebrate that achievement this weekend - and the man himself admits he is proud of what he has done in the game.

“As a kid you don’t really think about it too much,” he said. “You think ‘oh yeah, I’ll definitely be a rugby player’ because you don’t know what goes into it. And when you get to 15, 16 you find out that window is tiny.

“Sometimes I look back and think out of all my mates there was only a couple of us that got through.

“It’s weird how small that window is so you really do appreciate it when you look back.

“For me it was a massive achievement to play for the Saints. When you played that one game, you tried to get to five and to keep going like I did was fantastic.

“I’ve scored a few tries, made a few appearances, played in some quality teams in some cup finals and when you look back that’s what you judge yourself on really.”

Diggin’s testimonial match will kick off at 3pm at the Gardens on Sunday, with tickets priced at £10 for adults and £1 for juniors, with a share of the proceeds to the Niamh’s Next Step charity.

The teams will be as follows...

Saints All Stars: Bruce Reihana; Phil Robinson, Allan Bateman, Matt Allen, Matt Goode; Rory Teague, Johnny Howard; Tom Smith, Dan Richmond, Robbie Morris; Jon Phillips, Christian Short; Gavin Kendall, Budge Pountney, Mark Hopley. Replacements: Sam Miller, PAUL DIGGIN, Dave Abrahams, Fen Gallagher, Chris Kirby, Mark Tucker, Ben Barwell.

Saints legends: Alex Foster; Tom Foden, Chris Hyndman, Ed Binham, Richard Blank; Alex Rose, Ben Jones; Mark Kefford, Kyle Dufty, Ben Briddon; Johnny Chance, Lennie Newman; Charlie Smith, Darren Fox, Mark Soden. Replacements: Liam Wilkinson, Andrew Phillips, Ben Mann, Chris Kirby, Dougie Rafferty, Joe Newman, George Newman.