Tom Vickers' view: Isiekwe made such a huge impact at Saints

When the prospect of bringing Nick Isiekwe in on loan arose, there were fears that it may not be well received by Saints players and supporters.

By Tom Vickers
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:06 pm
Nick Isiekwe has had a huge impact at Saints
Nick Isiekwe has had a huge impact at Saints

After all, here Saiints were, seemingly keeping one of Saracens' players warm while the salary cap breakers spent what was expected to be a single season in the Championship.

Fans debated the move, some feeling there was no benefit in bringing in a player on to keep his progression going for another club, and not just any club, a club with whom Saints had formed something of a rivalry over the years.

There were worries from inside the corridors of the Gardens as to how the squad would take the news if Isiekwe joined on a loan deal.

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After all, he would be standing in the way of another, permanent Saints player, blocking the path to regular first-team starts.

All of this was weighed up carefully as the coaches took time to assess the situation.

Eventually it was decided that Isiekwe would come in, switching to Saints last summer until this one.

And it didn't take long for all of the initial anxieties to dissipate.

Because not only did Isiekwe become a popular figure off the pitch, with his likeable, cool customer demeanour, most importantly he had a huge impact on it.

The lofty lock, who ended up playing predominantly at six for Saints, used his sizeable frame to sizeable effect.

He brought that winning mentality Saracens built to such devastating effect across Europe and helped Saints turn the tide after the toughest of 2020s.

Here was a man who helped the team massively, putting in shift after shift for the black, green and gold.

So influential was he that even though the season has yet to end for the club - there are five regular-season games to go - some have spoken of him as potentially being player of the year.

Isiekwe's campaign has sadly reached a premature end due to a pectoral injury picked up against London Irish earlier this month.

He will still be around the Gardens to do rehab work but he won't be able to pull on the Saints shirt again.

It is a huge blow for Chris Boyd's side and a real shame that he won't be able to line up alongside Courtney Lawes who is set to return for the final three or four games of the season.

The pair could have become the new 'Bruise Brothers', a term coined by this publication to describe Lawes's relationship with Samu Manoa when Saints won the Premiership title in 2014.

They put in big hits up and down the land to help deliver glory to Northampton.

And you felt that a Lawes-Isiekwe combo could have the same powerful effect in this season's play-off bid.

But it wasn't to be.

Many on social media have expressed the strong desire to see Isiekwe stay at Saints beyond the current campaign.

Some have even taken to tweeting the man directly to try to make it happen.

Isiekwe has very much enjoyed that level of support, admitting in a recent interview with this publication that he has taken it all in and he feels 'blessed' by it.

But unfortunately for Saints, Isiekwe won't be able to stick around as he signed a new long-term deal at Saracens before moving to the Gardens on loan.

However, even though he won't run out in a Saints shirt in Northampton again, Isiekwe has etched his name on the heart of the club.

When he joined, some felt it would be a case of once a Saracen, always a Saracen.

But in actual fact, it is also a case of once a Saint, always a Saint for a man who everyone at the Gardens will only have well wishes for when he returns to his parent club in the months to come.