Saints players can show what they are made of during hectic start to season

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Matt Ferguson admits the strange start to the new season will put plenty of pressure on the Saints squad.

But the assistant coach is looking forward to being able to see all of the group in action during the opening week of the new campaign.

Saints will kick off the 2022/23 season with a Premiership Rugby Cup match against Saracens on September 8.

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That Thursday night encounter at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens comes one day before they kick-off their new Gallagher Premiership campaign at Sale Sharks.

Matt Ferguson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)Matt Ferguson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)
Matt Ferguson (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)

It means Saints will have to split their squad for the back-to-back encounters, with a young side set to face Saracens before the first team travel to the AJ Bell Stadium on the following day.

And Ferguson said: "It certainly puts huge pressure on squads and teams like ourselves who are trying to develop links with Bedford and get our players game time at other clubs.

"It adds more pressure but the positive in it, which is how we've tried to look at it, is that within the first four weeks of the season, there's five games.

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"What a chance to see everyone play and see those skillsets we believe players have on the park.

"The way it goes with two pre-season games sometimes you can get into the first round of the PRC in November time and people haven't had significant minutes.

"But after that first week, every full-time Saints player is going to put a shirt on, which is hugely exciting."

Saints have scheduled pre-season games against Bedford Blues (August 27) and Ospreys (September 2),

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But Ferguson says what players show on a daily basis will be the key factor as they look to move to the front of the queue for a starting spot by the time the Sale game rolls around.

"The biggest judgements we make on players is what we see day to day," Ferguson said.

"I've already been impressed with a couple of guys and just their base quality.

"It's very obvious when you get someone like a Lukhan (Salakaia-Loto) turn up, an international standard player, and he oozes class.

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"You look at some of the boys we've picked up from the Championship, Sam Graham, Alfie Petch, and you can see what we saw in them in every session.

"The next few weeks will give us all the information we need.

"You don't put people into a game environment and ask them to show you what they can do. The reason they get a chance to play in the game is that they've already showed us what they can do."

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