Cohen hopes North can help Saints stop underachieving

Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen
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Ben Cohen is hoping George North will be the man to help Saints shed their underachievers tag.

Wales star North was announced as a Northampton player on Tuesday, having been released from his Scarlets contract a year early.

He has penned a three-year deal at Franklin’s Gardens and will move to Saints this summer.

It is a huge signing for the club, who have not won a major trophy since Cohen helped them claim Heineken Cup glory in 2000.

And the former England wing, who was part of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, is hoping North can play a key role in ending Saints’ 13-year wait for a key piece of silverware.

“It’s a big club, Northampton,” said Cohen, who made 147 appearances for Saints between 1997 and 2007. “There’s fantastic facilities, the town is a rugby town.

“Make no bones about it, Northampton have underachieved. They underachieved when I played there and they really want to get rid of that tag. It’s important they do.

“If you can’t sign a world class player in one position, you need to put them in others and that shows they mean business.”

Though Cohen feels North is a great acquisition for Saints, he remains of the view other positions were more in need of strengthening.

The 34-year-old highlighted the areas he feels his former club still need to add players and said signing someone of North’s pedigree could aid their bid to do that.

“Any world class player is a great signing, because you’re attracting big-name players,” said Cohen. “As an ex-player and now as a fan, it is great to see. People want to see world class players down at the Gardens.

“From an ex-player’s perspective you need someone to steer the ship. The heartbeat of your side outside your front row. That’s probably your eight, nine and 10 and possibly 12. They’re the positions that need filling.

“They’ll feel they’ve got players close to world class standard, but they maybe haven’t found a 10 that’s world class, someone like Nick Evans at Harlequins or Owen Farrell at Saracens.

“They’ve gone for the next best thing of putting world class players in other positions and hopefully attract world class players at another time, maybe later in the year or next season.”