Saints Academy coach Diggin ready to deliver more stars

Paul Diggin
Paul Diggin
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Paul Diggin says watching Saints do the double last season was ‘mega’.

And he is now hoping to help them continue their success by producing more talented teens who can bring further silverware back to Franklin’s Gardens.

Diggin occupied a player-coach role at Saints last season, but did not play any first-team games.

Instead, he was restricted to Wanderers appearances while helping to coach the club’s next generation.

But he was at both the Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership final successes, celebrating on the pitch with his team-mates.

And having since hung up his boots for good, he is relishing the chance to play a part incontinuing the success story.

“It was mega,” said Diggin when asked how it felt to see his boyhood club claim their first top-flight title as well as another European crown. “It was absolutely brilliant for me, I’ve waited a long time for that.

“To be able to share that experience with the lads was amazing.

“It’s the best squad I’ve ever seen the Saints have. It’s testimony to the squad and the Academy that Alan Dickens, Mark Hopley and Dusty Hare are pushing so many of those lads through so we don’t have to do massive recruitment.

“They’ve done a fantastic job and hopefully I can try to add to that in years to come.”

Diggin has had to adjust to life without pre-season this year, watching on as the Saints players are put through a typically punishing regime and being forced to find other ways to fill his time.

“It was a little tough for me at the start because there’s a lot of strength and conditioning at this time of year,” admitted the former wing, who scored 62 tries in 148 appearances after coming through the Saints Academy. “That takes over, so I’ve had to occupy myself.

“I’ve helped Hoppers (Academy coach Mark Hopley) do some of his assignments and it’s been my first full week with the Under 18s so I’ve really enjoyed that. I’m looking forward to doing more and more.”

Diggin also has a testimonial game to look forward to, with the likes of Bruce Reihana and Tom Smith among the former players who will be turning out at the Gardens later this month.

The match take place on Sunday, August 31, with a 3pm kick-off, and will help raise money for local charity Niamh’s Next Step.

It is hoped Northampton fans will now turn out in force to watch Reihana, Smith and many more in action.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Diggin.

“We’ve managed to get the likes of Tom Smith, Bruce Reihana, Johnny Howard, Darren Fox, Jon Phillips, Ben Jones, Mark Hopley, Ian Vass and loads more to play.

“It’s been tough to organise because the Gardens pitch got torn up at the end of last season so we had to delay it.

“We also had to wait for the fixtures to come out for the first team so we could get a date set when no one had anything on, but it’s been sorted now.”

Tickets for the game can only be bought on the day and will be priced at £10 for adults and £1 for children.