Mallinder has plan if Saints’ star trio leave for France

Saints forward Samu Manoa is talking to Top 14 teams about a possible switch
Saints forward Samu Manoa is talking to Top 14 teams about a possible switch
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Jim Mallinder says it is ‘unbelievable’ that Saints did not lose more players last summer – and has irons in the fire if star men depart at the end of this campaign.

A number of Northampton players are attracting interest, with Samu Manoa, Dylan Hartley and George Pisi all linked with big-money moves to France.

Mallinder this week confirmed to the Chron that Manoa is talking to Top 14 teams, but stressed Hartley’s link to Montpellier and Pisi’s to Castres were just conjecture at this point.

However, the director of rugby knows it is inevitable that members of his double-winning squad will draw admiring glances from elsewhere.

And he believes his club will be a big draw for potential signings if he is forced into replacing current Saints stars.

“There’s always speculation and it’s always the same,” said Mallinder.

“We’ve had it in the past with a number of our players and it’s expected. We’ve got a really good team, some fantastic rugby players and it’s not surprising that other clubs are interested.

“This year was unbelievable that we didn’t particularly change our team – there’s not many times in my coaching career where that’s happened.

“That’s been an unusual year and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little bit of change.

“Of course you want to keep your best players, that goes without saying, but change is sometimes good.

“We’ve got a fantastic group of coaches, really good conditioning and physio departments who keep players in good condition and we’re a big draw for players. We’ve proved that.

“We’ve proved we can coach and develop players, make them into better players, hopefully into international players if they’re not already that and that’s a challenge.

“We’ve got a good chance, we might lose a few players but hopefully we might attract some good, young players coming through and we’ll make them better.”