Salakaia-Loto set for rapid return to Saints as he prepares to play for Barbarians

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto is set to make a rapid return to cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens as part of the Barbarians squad that takes to the field against Saints on September 2.
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Salakaia-Loto is strongly rumoured to be one of several Australian stars in action for the match in Northampton. The players are set to be on standby for the Wallabies ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which starts in France on September 8.

Saints will face the Baa-Baas in an exhibition fixture at the Gardens, giving supporters the chance to say a farewell to Salakaia-Loto, who left the club for Melbourne Rebels during the summer.

The 26-year-old made a big impact in Northampton after arriving from the Queensland Reds ahead of the start of last season.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

He played 24 times for Saints, scoring two tries, but he decided to cut his stay short for family reasons, as he explained in an exclusive interview with this publication back in May.

Salakaia-Loto told us: "It was not an easy decision to make but it was one where I had to put my family first, my partner and our two kids.

"It's been quite tough on them with the transition halfway across the world. I knew that would be the case coming over here in the first place, but just with the second child on the way and being over here without our support network has been quite tough.

"I had to put my family above all and do what's best for my partner and our kids."

Salakaia-Loto clearly loved his time in Northampton as he added: "It was everything and more that I expected.

"The benefit of playing in a small town like Northampton is that everyone gets behind the teams that represent the town and that's something I never got to experience in my past.

"Home games are sell-outs and the fans are next level, such loyal fans who are always so supportive through all the ups and downs.

"There were so many things that made the experience what it was and I'm just so grateful I have got to experience it.

"This past 12 months has brought a lot of happiness back into my life and my career, and it will serve me well in the future.

"The experience itself, going to work with the group that we have, day in, day out - I thoroughly enjoyed being among the group and the way the group plays and is coached.

"The group accepted me and accepted everyone for who they are that came through this season, and it's such a tight-knit group.

"It's probably one of the tightest groups I've had the pleasure of being a part of.

"There was also the atmosphere at the Gardens and playing in front of a full capacity with the noise and the support - it was unreal.

"Any future individual success I have, whether it's at my next destination or Test honours, Northampton will have played a large part in me getting back to that space.

"I've got a lot of thanks for the Saints and the Northampton community as a whole."

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