Mallinder believes Saints are in position of strength on eve of new season

HAPPY MAN - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

HAPPY MAN - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

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Jim Mallinder admits the summer break has flown by, but believes Saints are in a strong position going into the new season.

Mallinder’s men begin the defence of their Aviva Premiership crown against Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.

Many of the Saints squad were away on international tours during the summer, ending a busy season during which they barely had a weekend without a game.

But while he agrees the schedule has been a hectic one, Mallinder feels his players are fully refreshed as they bid to build on last season’s double delight.

“The summer has gone pretty quick,” said the Saints director of rugby.

“For the international players who have been away on tour it’s probably gone even quicker.

“The season seems to get shorter and shorter but we’ve enjoyed the summer and got a good break and now we’re back and hopefully we’re in a good position.”

And he added: “In an ideal world they’d have a bit longer, but we’re not in an ideal world and things come around very, very quickly.

“Some of the Welsh and Irish seem to get a little bit longer and the Irish in particular seem to be able to manage their players, but that’s because of the central contracts.

“We’re not like that, we’re a business and we start in September - that’s the way it happens.

“The players appreciate it, they’re professional and they get on with it.”

Saints won three of their four pre-season matches, with the 27-25 defeat to Newport-Gwent Dragons last Friday the only blot on their copybook.

But Mallinder does not feel friendly results have any influence on preparation and is now looking forward to get stuck into the serious stuff.

He said: “Pre-season’s always busy, lots going on with the fitness and the building up to the games but you really just want to get going again.

“You can learn a lot from pre-season but the intensity is never properly there and it’s only the first game of the season where you know properly where you’re at.”