Mallinder issues challenge to Saints squad

THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD - Jim Mallinder knows Saints face a difficult run of games (picture by Linda Dawson)
THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD - Jim Mallinder knows Saints face a difficult run of games (picture by Linda Dawson)
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Jim Mallinder has challenged his Saints squad to maintain their fine early-season form through the ‘difficulties’ ahead.

Mallinder has steered Northampton to three wins from their opening four Aviva Premiership games.

And their record would have been even more impressive had it not been for the controversy at Kingsholm, which saw Gloucester snatch a last-gasp success.

As it is, Saints, who won their opening five league games last season, sit second in the league standings going into Saturday’s showdown with Leicester Tigers.

But Mallinder knows tricky tests lie in wait this month, with Premiership clashes against Tigers and Saracens sandwiching Heineken Cup matches against Castres and Ospreys.

Plus, there is the added complication of the autumn internationals, which begin on November 2 and will surely see Saints lose a number of their key players.

“Last season we started well and played some decent rugby but we got into a little dip,” said Mallinder. “We’re going to have difficulties coming up, clearly.

“We’ve got some massive challenges coming up: Leicester next week then we’ll lose international players, how many I don’t know.

“It will be interesting because a lot of our team are putting their hands up so that will be an interesting challenge for us.

“All you can do is challenge these other players and our strength in depth, with the (Alex and Ethan) Wallers of this world, the Mikey Haywoods, is decent so we’ll be challenged but it’s good for us.”