Chairman Hewitt knows Saints must get right mix in battle for midlands supremacy

Tony Hewitt knows Saints must get their recruitment right (picture: Linda Dawson)
Tony Hewitt knows Saints must get their recruitment right (picture: Linda Dawson)

In recent months, some Saints supporters have been casting envious eyes up the motorway.

They have looked at the recruitment done by local rivals Leicester Tigers, and especially Wasps, and feared that they may be the poor relations in the east midlands next season.

Wasps will be adding Australia star Kurtley Beale and Danny Cipriani to their star-studded backline and they have also been linked with South Africa full-back Willie Le Roux.

Meanwhile, in Leicester, lips are being licked at the prospect of Aussie ace Matt Toomua lining up alongside Manu Tuilagi in the centre department of a back division that will also include South Africa wing JP Pietersen.

Saints, of course, have their own headline acts, in the form of players such as George North and Ben Foden.

But the club have not added the sort of galacticos to their back line that others have and fans are eager to see more reinforcements come in.

France star Louis Picamoles will bolster an impressive-looking pack, while Nic Groom will replace Kahn Fotuali’i at scrum-half.

But do the Saints heirarchy feel under pressure to splash whatever cash is left in the newly-named salary framework, considering the stars coming to, and being linked with, the likes of Leicester and Wasps?

“At Northampton we are committed to being a top-four side,” said chairman Tony Hewitt.

“We want to remain competitive and we think the ideal mix is to have a mixture of homegrown players coming through - a lot of our success this season has been bringing through the Harry Mallinders, Teimana Harrisons, Mike Haywood - and then topping it up with one or two major signings coming in, like Louis Picamoles, Nic Groom and hopefully the two we’re trying to do at the moment.

“We feel with the homegrown players we’ve got and one or two additional players, we’ve got the right team to challenge for the top positions.

“What we’ve got to make sure we do is spend the money we can to make sure we’ve got the most competitive team possible.

“We are conscious of the fact that we’ve got people like George North already on our books. He’s extended his contract with us.

“We’ve also got the England skipper (Dylan Hartley).

Some fans felt frustrated at a perceived lack of entertainment at times at Franklin’s Gardens last season.

And Hewitt said: “We are still committed to spending the top of the salary framework.

“We’re committed to spending the maximum we can on that and we want to do it for the fans.

“A fan will always want you to sign every player because they want the best in their team, but we have to rely on the coaches to get the best to fit within the salary framework and a successful team.

“Jim (Mallinder) has been very good at doing that so we had ended up in that top four position since 2009.

“This year, we regarded as a failure, but we still finished fifth.

“We want to improve next year and be back in the top four.”