Saints could look to bring in extra forward power

Gareth Denman (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Gareth Denman (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Jim Mallinder admits he could look to bring in a fresh face up front if England opt to use both Kieran Brookes and Paul Hill during the Six Nations.

Brookes is currently recovering from knee surgery, but could be back in time for the tournament, while Hill will join him in the Red Rose squad.

If both are selected - England play their first Six Nations game in Scotland on February 6 - Saints would be left short on the tighthead side.

They still have Gareth Denman, who played for the England Saxons last season, but would need someone to help provide cover.

And Mallinder said: “At this moment in time, we’re fine on our loosehead side, but with the EPS agreement we’ve suddenly got two tightheads who are in the squad, so that is an area we need to look at.”

And on Denman, who has yet to start a game this season due to the form of summer signings Brookes and Hill, Mallinder said: “We haven’t forgotten him.

“He’s probably frustrated that his opportunities haven’t been as great as in previous years, but he’s been training really well and looking forward to his opportunities. Those will certainly come.”

Saints have freed up some money by deciding to release Alex Corbisiero before the end of his contract.

The England prop’s deal was due to run until the summer, but he is currently recovering from knee surgery and had already signalled his intention to take a year away from rugby after the conclusion of the current campaign.

“Alex had already spoken to us as a club in terms of wanting to take some time off from the game and he originally was looking to do that at the end of the season,” Mallinder said.

“With his injury and with his knee there was a chance he could come back towards the end of the season, but we made the sensible decision that it was best he gives himself maximum time to recover.

“It’s pointless bringing him back for a few weeks to then not play next season so it was in both parties’ interests.”