Gray sets sights on a lengthy Saints stay

Joe Gray got some game time for Saints against Ospreys last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Joe Gray got some game time for Saints against Ospreys last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Joe Gray says he ‘100 per cent’ wants to stay at Saints beyond the three-month deal he has been handed.

Gray left Harlequins at the conclusion of the previous campaign, having spent eight years at The Stoop.

The 30-year-old was on the lookout for a new opportunity and he has now been given a chance as injury cover at Saints.

Reece Marshall and Mike Haywood continue to nurse injuries picked up last season and Gray has been drafted in to help Dylan Hartley and James Fish.

The Northampton-born hooker knows all about life at Franklin’s Gardens having started his professional career at Saints, graduating from the club’s Academy.

And he would clearly love to ensure his time in rugby starts and finishes in the colours of Northampton.

When asked if he would like to stay at Saints beyond October, Gray, who featured in last Saturday's pre-season win at Ospreys, said: “100 per cent.

“This came up as an opportunity for three months and there’s an opportunity that if I do well it could be prolonged.

“I’m just coming in, giving it my best shot and seeing what evolves.”

And he added: “It’s been 13 years since I started at Saints, at 17 coming into the Academy.

“I’ve come full circle and I’ve just turned 30 so I’m getting a bit older now.

“It’s pleasing to be back. There’s been quite a lot of change - the stadium’s been developed, there’s new facilities and the changing room is a totally different place - it’s even got a jacuzzi.

“It’s nice to be back.”

There are plenty of familiar faces for Gray, making it easier for him to settle in at Saints.

“It’s quite nice that a lot of the coaching staff are players I played with,” he said.

“I played with Phil Dowson, Alan Dickens, Hoppers (Mark Hopley) so there’s some familiar faces.

“And there are also some familiar players with Courtney (Lawes) and Dylan (Hartley) here so that helps. There are some top guys here.”