New boss Dowson has put his blueprint on Saints

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Alex Coles says Phil Dowson has definitely 'put his blueprint' on Saints ahead of their pre-season opener against Bedford Blues on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

Coles is set to captain the black, green and gold in their first game since Dowson, who was forwards coach last season, took over from Chris Boyd this summer.

And the lofty lock says although not too much has changed, you can definitely tell that the Dowson era has started.

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"I'd say it's slightly different, not massively changed," Coles said.

Phil Dowson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)Phil Dowson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)
Phil Dowson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)

"But Dows has definitely put his own blueprint in terms of how he wants things around the club and how he wants us to play.

"I don't think our overall game plan will change massively but there are slight nuances that Dows has brought in so it has felt a bit different.

"It's not a complete departure because we've got the same coaching setup with (Sam) Vesty, Ferg (Matt Ferguson), Vassy (Ian Vass) and obviously Tram (James Craig) stepping up.

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"It's not wildly different but it is recognisable that this is Dows's club now."

And it seems as though Coles will play a big part in Dowson's club.

The 22-year-old made 29 appearances last season, 13 of which were starts.

And Coles said: "I got a good run of starts, which I've been wanting for a while.

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"I've always been in and around, getting some time off the bench and stuff, but it's not the same as stringing together some regular starts.

"It was really important for me to get those games and it takes a couple of starts to really show what you can produce.

"I was happy with some of my games, but there's still a long way to go in my game, I know that.

"It's been a good start, at least."

Coles is honoured to be able to lead the team out at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens this weekend.

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And he can't wait to square up to plenty of familiar faces in the Bedford side.

"There's only so much slogging on the pre-season pitch that you can do," Coles said.

"Eventually you want to get back to playing rugby and we're all pretty buzzing for Saturday.

"There's a really nice connection between us and Bedford so there's that friendly rivalry, which should make for a really good match.

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"I do enjoy being captain and we've got loads of good leaders in the squad.

"We've got Lewis (Ludlam), Alex Waller, Fraser Dingwall and I had a bit of a chance with it last year in the Prem Cup.

"When the opportunity comes I'm never going to turn it down because I'm proud to do it.

"It's not something I'm striving towards in the next couple of years because I want to focus on my own game but I'll happily step up when the opportunity is given."