Saints boss Mallinder ‘fed up’ as Dawson and Cohen question North signing

Jim Mallinder says he is fed up of former Saints players talking negatively about the signing of George North.

North was announced as a Northampton player on Tuesday, sparking excitement among the Franklin’s Gardens faithful.

Former Saints scrum-half Matt Dawson

Former Saints scrum-half Matt Dawson

But there has been some scepticism from Saints heroes of years gone by, who feel the club should have focused on strengthening other areas of the team rather than the wing berth.

Matt Dawson labelled the North deal ‘good, not great’, while Ben Cohen says the club have ‘maybe gone for the next best thing’ after failing to sign a world-class fly-half’.

Mallinder has been left disappointed by those comments and he had his say at Saints’ media session on Thursday.

“I get a little bit fed up of some of our ex-players talking about him (North) and issues,” said the director of rugby.

“Of course your ex-players can have their say, but generally you want them to be positive and supporting the team.

“I think what you’ve got to do is listen to the people you respect.

“You talk to your coaches, you talk to people like (incoming backs coach) Alex King, you talk and you listen to the people you really do respect.

“You then make a decision and we think we’ve got a world-class player.

“The majority of people I’ve spoken to are very excited about him, really, really excited so it’s just a shame you hear some people who don’t get the same feeling.”

Despite the contrasting views on the capture of North, who has won 31 Test caps for Wales and looks a certainty to tour Australia with the British & Irish Lions this summer, it is a major coup for Northampton.

And Mallinder couldn’t hide his happiness at completing a deal for the player he hopes will push the club on to major honours.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “We’ve been talking to George and his agent for what seems like quite a long time now and finally we’ve got his signature and I’m absolutely delighted.

“It shows the club’s intent of moving forward next season.

“We’ve done well, we’ve got to cup finals, we were very close in the semi-finals last season, but as a club we want to push on.

“I think some of these signings we’re making for next season shows our intent.”