Boyd wishes Saints leavers well
As is the case every summer, Saints have said goodbye to some men who have played key roles in the club’s recent history.
The likes of Francois van Wyk, Shaun Adendorff and loanee Nick Isiekwe have all exited Franklin’s Gardens this summer.
Owen Franks is another who has departed, having not had the kind of on-field impact he or the club would have expected.
But no one has left on a sour note, with Saints boss Chris Boyd keen to wish all of those leaving Saints well.
The black, green and gold will, of course, welcome some fresh faces who will fill the voids for the new season, which starts on September 18.
The likes of Karl Wilkins, Brandon Nansen and, notably, Juarno Augustus, will be making their way to Northampton.
But it is with those who are going in the other direction where Boyd initially focuses his attention as he wishes them all the best.
“I thought Nick Isiekwe was outstanding for us in a difficult situation,” Boyd said of the influential forward, who had spent a year on loan at Saints from Saracens.
“When we considered he would come here for a year and then go back, my initial reaction was why would we provide playing and development opportunity for someone who wasn’t a Saintsman?
“But we felt he could add to our environment and we felt we could add to his playing future, and it was a very good arrangement, unfortunately shortened by injury, as was Owen (Franks).
“Owen was a wonderful servant of Canterbury Crusaders and New Zealand rugby, but he probably didn’t find his best form here, battling with injuries and then getting that setback with a foot injury that took him out for the rest of last season.
“Covid has been tough for the guys whose home here is not home and I can only have admiration for Owen and wish him well back in New Zealand.
“He’s left a good legacy here around commitment, dedication and the professionalism he has as an athlete.”
The departure of Franks wasn’t such a surprise, and the exit of Isiekwe was always set in stone.
But Adendorff’s decision to leave Saints and move back to the Pro D2 in France with Nevers came as the biggest shock.
The South African No.8 had seemingly settled well at Saints and aside from an injury sustained during the second half of the season, things appeared to be going swimmingly for him.
So what was Boyd’s take on the situation?
“I first saw Shaun play in 2012 in the World U20 final in Cape Town and Shaun was playing for South Africa, I was with the New Zealand side,” Boyd explained.
“He hasn’t really settled in his rugby journey, he’s been to a couple of places.
“He was in the Pro D2 in France and we picked him up here.
“He had a desire to go back to France, looking for a little bit more game time than he was getting here and we were happy for that to happen.
“I wish Shaun and his family really well and I hope he finds his home to hang his hat on at some stage and put his roots in the ground.”
There were were plenty of young players heading for the Gardens exit door, too, with the likes of Reuben Bird-Tulloch and Ryan Olowofela on their way out.
“Typically those boys will come in and everyone survives year one generally and at the end of year two or three if you think there’s still some development to go you’ll try to get them to where they need to be,” Boyd said.
“At the end of the day, not everyone that comes through your Academy is going to succeed so we sadly said goodbye to two or three characters whose time we’ve enjoyed here, but we didn’t see that their immediate future was going to be with the Saints.
“They’ve got opportunities to play elsewhere and they’ve moved on.
“It’s part of the journey of the professional sportsman.”
Focus will now switch to bedding the new players in before the serious stuff starts against Gloucester at the Gardens in mid-September.
Saints will look forward to welcoming a full house of fans back for that match, as long as Covid doesn’t have a say once again.
“We’ll see how that pans out,” Boyd said.
“At the moment, this country is in a reasonable space but you don’t want to take your eye off the ball because things can change globally quite dramatically.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the Covid story and unfortunately for all of us, it’s had an impact on our lives, whether that be socially or financially or whatever.
“But just to get to the point where we could have 4,000 people here at the Gardens and actually remind ourselves what it was like to play here at home was a really good way for us to finish last season.
“It gave us enthusiasm to get through the summer and get back here in September and hopefully do it all again in front of even more people.”