Mallinder insists Saints are up for a three-way fight

CONFIDENT IN SQUAD STRENGTH - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)
CONFIDENT IN SQUAD STRENGTH - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder has dismissed fears that fighting on three fronts could cause Saints problems during the second half of the season.

Mallinder’s men dropped out of the Heineken Cup last weekend, but will now face an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final at Sale in early April, with the game sandwiched between Aviva Premiership games against Leicester and Saracens.

Saints are also in the hunt for a top-two finish in the league, sitting second to Sarries in the standings, and are top of their LV= Cup pool going into Saturday’s game at Newport Gwent Dragons.

But instead of worrying about the prospect of playing too many games, Mallinder has stressed he would far rather see his side in action every week than not.

“We’ve done it in the past and people said ‘if you’re only in one, it’s a lot better and a lot easier’,” said the director of rugby.

“Well, it’s not necessarily a lot better.

“It’s tough, but it’s where we want to be. We have got a big squad and we have got some very big players.

“We want to be playing rugby every week, we don’t want weeks off.

“We’d rather channel ourselves, see if we can rotate our squad, keep everybody fresh and it is a challenge to us as management to make sure that, if we do get into semi-finals and finals, that our players are fresh enough and ready to go and win those big games.

“It’s what we’re used to as rugby players. The occasional week off is a good thing, it gives you the chance to put your feet up, but you certainly don’t want to be doing that too regularly.

“All our players agree with that and that’s the philosophy we’ve got here as a club.”

Mallinder will hand a chance to a number of men who have had limited game time when Saints go to Newport this weekend.

And the Northampton boss says he is eager to see his fringe players grasp the opportunity they have been given.

“I can’t wait to see them,” said Mallinder. “There’s lots of players who are in that category, who have been on the bench and not started many games or not even been in the 23.

“Some have played well for the Wanderers, got through to the final of that competition (the Aviva ‘A’ League) but not quite got into the starting 23.

“We’ve got lots of players in those positions who I’m really looking forward to seeing.”