New Saint Oakley glad to sign for his ‘biggest club’

SIGNING ON - Rhys Oakley (picture: Dave Ikin)

SIGNING ON - Rhys Oakley (picture: Dave Ikin)

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SAINTS new boy Rhys Oakley says it is great to finally sign on at ‘the biggest club I’ve ever been at’.

Oakley has put pen to paper on a permanent deal at Franklin’s Gardens after impressing during a trial period.

The 31-year-old announced himself with a solid showing as a replacement against Leinster and then started in the win against Moseley last Thursday before getting more game time against Edinburgh 24 hours later.

That display led Jim Mallinder to say he was eager to sign the No.8 on a permanent basis and the Saints boss has wasted little time in getting his man.

And Oakley, who has two Wales caps to his name and who lists Leeds Carnegie and Bourgoin among his former club, couldn’t be happier.

He said: “It’s great to be at a big club, certainly the biggest club that I’ve ever been at.

“I’m relishing the chance to do well here. Unfortunately Bourgoin’s financial situation meant that things didn’t go as well as I wanted in France, but Saints gave me a ring. Things went well and here I am!

“I think I’m coming to Northampton as a more rounded player from my time in France. I had to take a lot more onto my own back and become a lot more professional, rather than have it being forced on me, and I had to learn to communicate effectively in a different way.

“I’m glad I got away from the Premiership for a year; it was good to experience a different culture. So I feel like I’m here refreshed as a player and ready to make the most of my opportunity. The Saints’ style of play suits my game and I hope I’ll do well here.”

Oakley will compete with Gerrit-Jan van Velze for a starting spot at Saints and Mallinder is pleased to have added an extra level of competition to his squad.

“Quality back rowers are always good to have at the club, and we believe that Rhys can contribute to the squad,” said Mallinder.

“Rhys has impressed us over the summer, both in training and in how he has played in the pre-season matches.”