'An amazing journey' - retiring Haywood reflects on special Saints career

Mike Haywood says his stay at Saints has been 'an amazing journey'.
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The 31-year-old will retire when his current contract runs out at the end of the season.

Southend-born Haywood will take up a role as a coach at St Joseph's College in Ipswich.

The hooker has made an incredible 269 appearances for Saints so far, scoring 34 tries in a career spanning 13 seasons at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Mike HaywoodMike Haywood
Mike Haywood

Academy product Haywood, who made his debut against Gloucester in 2011, helped the club to claim a memorable Premiership and European Challenge Cup double in 2014.

And he said: “It’s been an amazing journey for me with Saints – starting from playing locally in Colchester, going through the Academy system, and then into the first team.

“It’s hard to put into words how lucky I feel and how grateful I am to have had this experience at the club.

“The standout season of course was when we won the Premiership and Challenge Cup in 2014, and winning the semi-final at the Gardens – that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“But throughout the 13 seasons in Northampton, the support from the fans has been amazing and the staff at the club are incredible.

“In recent years, I’ve been unlucky with a few injuries, but the physios and S&C staff have been amazing getting me back to playing. I’m grateful to all the coaches for giving me the opportunity to wear the jersey.

“I always wanted ultimately to move back home at the end of my playing career, and the opportunity arose for me at St Joseph’s which felt too good to turn down.

"I’m really excited to teach there and hopefully develop some great rugby players who enjoy the game as much as I did.

“Phil Dowson was fantastic in giving me time to make my decision, and I want to stay involved with the club and the Academy as much as I can, still being within our catchment area in East Anglia.

"I came through the system there, so to be able to give some lads the opportunity to go on the same journey I did with Saints is something I also want to be a part of.”