Saints boss Mallinder pleased with debut performance of Ma’afu

SATISFIED - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder
SATISFIED - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

Jim Mallinder feels Salesi Ma’afu handled himself very well during his Saints debut.

Mallinder brought tighthead prop Ma’afu into the team for the Heineken Cup clash with Castres to shore up a scrum that struggled in the 19-19 draw at Leicester a week earlier.

And the Australian, who joined from Western Force during the summer, helped to ensure Northampton were able to at least claim parity against their powerful French opponents.

Castres eventually clung on to record a 19-13 success, but Mallinder was happy with how Ma’afu performed during his 60 minutes on the pitch.

“We’re pleased with him,” said the Saints boss.

“Clearly he’s not there for his spin passes or to run down the wing, he’s in there for the set piece and I think he handled himself very well.

“I’m pleased with how his debut went.”

Ma’afu could get the call once again this week as Saints prepare to take on an Ospreys team packed with British & Irish Lions forwards.

And Mallinder knows his men will need to get a win out of a game which will have big implications in a blood and thunder Pool 1.

“We’ve got to take the positives out of the defeat to Castres,” he said.

“We’d have been disappointed if we hadn’t got anything, but we’ve got that (losing bonus) point.

“We had a chance to sneak it but we didn’t quite look there and it just means the pool is open.

“We’re looking forward to this week and we know we’ve got to win our home games.”