Burrell ready to take centre stage at Saints

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LUTHER BURRELL is adamant he can take centre stage at Saints – and fill the boots of James Downey.

The 6ft 3in centre moves to Northampton from Sale Sharks this summer, heralding a ‘massive opportunity’ at Franklin’s Gardens.

He has seen Saints stalwarts Downey and Jon Clarke move to Munster and Worcester respectively, and Burrell is now desperate to take his chance.

The 24-year-old endured an injury-disrupted season at Sale last time round and opted to switch south after his contract expired.

Burrell has signed a two-year deal at the Gardens and is now determined to establish himself in the Saints side.

“It was hard to break in at Sale, but I did get my shot here and there with a few starts,” Burrell told The Rugby Paper. “It came to the end of the season and I had a good sit down with Steve (Diamond) and he just sort of said how it was.

“He’s a tough character and a very proud man who likes hard working players, but I got on with him really well and he wanted me to stay.

“However, I explained that Northampton were in for me and that for me going forward and where I want to be – with aspirations to be a solid Premiership player – I can do that at Northampton.

“I can progress there and show what I can do because there’s a place for me with James Downey and Jon Clarke leaving. It was a massive opportunity to lay a platform and establish myself in the Premiership.”

Burrell, who was steered on the right path by current England boss Stuart Lancaster during his time in the Leeds academy, cites Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder as one of the main reasons for his move.

And he says is now relishing the opportunity to play in front of the fervent Franklin’s Gardens faithful week in, week out.

Burrell said: “Northampton is a massive rugby town and I went down a couple of times to have a look round the place.

“I met Jim, who’s a great guy and from going down there I knew I wanted to be part of it. He’s a northern boy like me and I think we’ll have a lot in common. I know what he’ll demand of me and I think I can deliver and lay down a serious marker.

“Saints are getting 14,000 crowds week in, week out, which will be brilliant for me and my confidence.

“I know Sale have obviously qualified for the Heineken Cup this season but that was another thing that attracted me to Northampton.

“They were in the Premiership semi-finals last season and are a club who are always there of thereabouts at the top end of the league. I wanted to be part of something like that.”