Clarke announces Saints departure

Northampton Saints V Ulster.'Heineken Cup Quarter Final at Stadium:MK. 'Pictured: Jon Clarke. 'SPORT, ASHLEY.
Northampton Saints V Ulster.'Heineken Cup Quarter Final at Stadium:MK. 'Pictured: Jon Clarke. 'SPORT, ASHLEY.

Northampton Saints centre Jon Clarke is leaving the club to join Worcester.

The talented midfielder, who has played for England Saxons, will make the switch to Sixways from the start of the 2012/13 campaign.

The 28-year-old, born in Sheffield, has played a total of 165 games for the Saints and scored 32 tries.

Head Coach Richard Hill said: “We are very excited that Jon will be joining us next season. He is vastly experienced and has been playing at one of the top clubs in the country for many seasons.

“He is physically a very powerful man and has the ability to offload and break the advantage line. Jon is a multi-skilled player, as he can operate at 12, 13 or 15, and will add a great deal to our midfield options.

“He also has a superb attitude and is very highly thought of in the game as well as being a tremendous talent. He is very serious about his rugby and very serious and ambitious about bringing success to Sixways.”

Clarke made the move to Franklin’s Gardens in 2003 as part of the Saints Academy and had an immediate impact at first team level.

He was named Young Player of the Year in 2003/04, normally operating at full back, before a switch to centre in 2005 saw his career hit new highs.

Clarke was also hugely significant for Saints during the 2009/10 season with his nine tries in all competitions the second highest tally in the squad, and his play alongside James Downey earned him a call from the England Saxons for their Six Nations games against Ireland and Italy.

After passing a century of Saints appearances in a Heineken Cup match with Benetton Treviso, Clarke retained his place in the Saxons squad that went on to win the 2010 Churchill Cup in Denver, USA.

Clarke said: “This is a new challenge for me as I prepare to move to a new club after a long and hugely enjoyable spell at Northampton.

“I felt I needed a change and I spoke to Richard Hill and was really impressed by his vision and also the set-up at the club. I feel I can play a role in the club moving up another level.

“There is great support for Warriors and the city of Worcester is now a real rugby city, which I always had at Northampton, and that backing excites me.

“Warriors are clearly at the moment retaining the club’s key players and the quality of players being brought in just shows the expectation to improve and I want to be part of that.”