Saints will have 'a bit more of an edge' this season

Sam VestySam Vesty
Sam Vesty
Sam Vesty expects Saints to have 'a bit more of an edge' to their game this season.

Phil Dowson has stepped up from his role as forwards coach to take over as director of rugby after Chris Boyd departed this summer.

Vesty moves from attack coach to head coach, with Matt Ferguson remaining as assistant coach and scrum guru, and Ian Vass still in charge of the defence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

James Craig has been promoted from his role with the Academy as he takes on a coaching position with the senior squad.

Saints developed a swashbuckling style during Boyd's four years in charge, but at times they were criticised for not focusing enough on the physical side of the game.

They did improve in that area though, enough to finish fourth in the Gallagher Premiership last season, losing to a battle-hardened Leicester Tigers team in the play-off semi-finals.

And when asked what the game plan will be like following Boyd's departure, Vesty said this week: "It's similar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We're going to have a bit more of an edge to our game and highlight more of a physical edge.

"If you see Saints play, you will recognise the game and it won't look too dissimilar to what you've seen before.

"Our game has grown really well over the past four years and we're looking to just improve that.

"If you practice something for four years, it comes much quicker and more naturally.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Our players are better at it and that consistency of our messaging and what we're trying to achieve is a real strength of ours.

"Our game plan gives us an opportunity to win big games, and that's the key."

As for how his own role has changed this summer, Vesty said: "My role is similar-ish. I've always looked after the coaching department with Boydy's help in the past.

"Boydy always gave us a lot of leeway to run our own programmes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There are definitely changes, and Dows has really come to the fore in a leadership role and running everything around that.

"It has been slightly different but nothing we weren't expecting.

"We have had lots of little chats with Boydy - more social and a little bit looking at a couple of the games.

"We really want to crack on and get on with running the team, and Boydy is feeding back on that but really giving us a chance to get our teeth stuck in."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Saints will start the new Gallagher Premiership campaign with a tricky trip to Sale Sharks on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

And Vesty said: "What better way to start the league than a trip up the road?

"They are strong up there and we haven't won there during my time here so what a great challenge that is!

"There will be some subtle changes to how Sale play, and George Ford will have an impact on their game plan when he is available.

"They will have players like Tom O'Flaherty who have freedom to act.

"The big picture will all look very similar to how we've all seen Sale play in recent years."