Saints sign Championship dream team prop after Franks injury blow

Saints have moved quickly to cover for the loss of injured Owen Franks by signing Nottingham tighthead prop Oisin Heffernan.

Monday, 15th February 2021, 3:06 pm
Oisin Heffernan has represented Ireland Under-20s and is pictured here taking on New Zealand in 2014

Heffernan arrives immediately and the 26-year-old comes with plenty of pedigree, having previously been at Leinster.

His performances at Nottingham have certainly caught the eye, and he was named in the Championship dream team last season.

Saints boss Chris Boyd confirmed on Monday afternoon that Franks would be out for a lengthy spell due to a foot injury.

And Heffernan has been brought in to compete with the likes of Paul Hill and Ehren Painter at tighthead.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to join Northampton Saints and make the step up into the Premiership for the first time in my career," Heffernan said.

“There are a quality group of tightheads already in place at Franklin’s Gardens and I hope I can learn from them and also challenge for a place in the team in the weeks ahead.

"I can’t wait to get started.”

English-qualified Heffernan, who started training at Saints on Monday, originally hails from Clifden Galway in the west of Ireland, but came through the Leinster Rugby Schools set-up before making three appearances in the Pro14 for the senior side.

During his time in Leinster’s Academy, the 118kg, 6’1” prop was selected to represent Ireland U20s for two seasons, making 20 appearances for his country across the U20 Six Nations and Junior World Championship competitions.

Heffernan also spent time in Australia playing in Queensland’s Premier Rugby competition before signing for Nottingham back in 2018 where he made 44 appearances and scored three tries.

And Saints scrum coach Matt Ferguson is pleased to have been able to recruit the prop.

“Oisín has been a standout performer in the Championship for a couple of years now, and we’re delighted to be able to bring him into the club immediately,” Ferguson said.

“He was in the Championship dream team last season, and when we’ve had scrummaging sessions with Nottingham in the past, we’ve had a good look at him and he performed well against the group of props we already have in place at Saints.

“He understands the style of rugby we want to play, and he’s a really good fit for us because as well as being a strong set piece man, he also wants to contribute to the wider game - so he’s really in the Saints mould of front-row forwards.”