Saints are ready for 'legendary fixture'

Matt Ferguson says Saints will be fully ready for the 'legendary fixture' at Welford Road on Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:36 pm
Matt Ferguson

The black, green and gold travel to take on local rivals Leicester Tigers in another hugely significant Gallagher Premiership battle.

Saints are currently fifth in the standings, four points off fourth.

Leicester are eighth, eight points behind Saints with six games of the regular season to go.

And scrum guru Ferguson, who moved to Northampton in the summer of 2018, needs no reminding just how much this match means to everyone at Franklin's Gardens.

"For me as a rugby fan and particularly a set piece, front row fan, I can remember the punches and some of those real scrum battles that happened before my time," Ferguson said.

"Any rugby fan, no matter who you support, knows the derby.

"It's a legendary fixture, alongside the Manchester United v Liverpool fixtures."

Ferguson has been working closely with forwards coach Phil Dowson to come up with a plan to take down the Tigers on their own turf.

And Ferguson said: "Dows (Phil Dowson) is incredibly passionate about everything he does that involves making this team better and when he starts to talk, towards the end of the conversation his voice gets a little bit higher.

"He actually admitted in one of the meetings that he was getting excited because it's this week.

"It's important for our mental sharpness as well as the players that we're feeding the right information through at the right time and come 3pm on Saturday, everyone will be as excited as they need to be."

Saints are set to employ a balance of youth and experience as the bid to win at Welford Road this weekend.

And Ferguson has no doubt that the younger members of the team can handle a fixture of such meaning.

He said: "Will this be a massive fixture for Ollie Sleightholme? Yes, it will be. Has he played in massive European fixtures for Saints already? Yes, he has.

"We took Manny (Iyogun) there last year when we had the front row crisis and he did absolutely fine.

"That was the start of his emergence.

"What we talk a lot about is that when Saints go really well, everyone looks after their part of the jigsaw, everyone delivers on their role.

"I'm pretty sure Sue (Alex Waller) and Woody (Tom Wood) will keep the emotion levels and I'm sure (Dan) Biggar will keep the standards right.

"What those three demand is excellence from everyone all of the time, including us as coaches.

"You don't need to tell a youngster that this is going to be a big game because all of our youngsters have played in a big game already.

"If you join the club, you just know and see the intensity around meetings and training.

"We don't need to say it's a big week and we have no concern, whoever we put out there, 300 caps or three caps, we'll be in the right mental and physical state to give it a good shot against Leicester."