Saints skipper Hartley: No fear at Franklin’s Gardens

Dylan Hartley insists Saints still possess plenty of confidence (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dylan Hartley insists Saints still possess plenty of confidence (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Dylan Hartley insists there is no fear at Franklin’s Gardens following the recent run of disappointing results.

The skipper stressed there is confidence in the Saints camp and says spirits are high ahead of today’s showdown with Exeter Chiefs at the Gardens (kick-off 3pm).

Saints have suffered 10 defeats in their past 11 matches and currently sit 10th in the Aviva Premiership standings.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder saw time called on his 10-year tenure last week and the club are now looking for a new boss.

But Hartley and his team-mates are eager to focus on matters on the field and the captain feels Saints can turn things around against the champions this weekend.

“There’s definitely not a fear here,” Hartley said.

“I don’t see a squad that is fragmented.

“The guys enjoy being together, training and playing together.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence thing.

“The guys are in good spirits. We’ve got the right people in the room.

“I fully believe we’re not far away, but we need to improve on facets of the game.

“We’re hosting the Premiership champions this weekend and the games come thick and fast.

“You don’t get an easy game to get back on track and that’s the reality of it.”

The Saints supporters have suffered in recent times, seeing their side slide after topping the Premiership table for the first time in 2015.

And Hartley and Co are well aware of the fans’ frustrations.

“It’s hard not to be,” said the England captain.

“My neighbour, Ken, walks the dog every day, just grumbles and nods his head in an up down fashion or side to side fashion.

“We’re privileged to have this stadium and this town.

“When you win, it’s brilliant, and when you lose, you’ve got to carry it.”

Hartley has assured the supporters that Saints will emerge from the difficult spell the club is currently experiencing.

He said: “We’re very privileged to have great fans.

“I’ve been here 12 years now and been through periods like this before.

“It is rough but you do come out the other side of it.

“Experience tells us there is a way out.

“It’s about sticking at the process, focusing on small facets every day and that result will come our way.”

Hartley looks back to seasons gone by when Saints struggled but came back even stronger.

And he said: “A few seasons ago, we were at this stage in the season and in the new year we went on to win just about every game.

“We knew we had to win every game to make the top four towards the end of the season and every week was a cup final.

“We ended up making the top four and losing in the semis, so it’s doable.

“There is a way out.

“We need to keep plugging on and sticking together.”