Northampton Saints - Diggin ‘I always wanted to stay at my home club’

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Paul Diggin says Jim Mallinder turning down England to stay at Saints shows just why the wing has signed a new deal with the club.

The Northampton born-and-bred player yesterday agreed a new contract with the club he made his debut for nine years ago as an 18-year-old.

And Diggin said he had no hesitation in signing up again despite being linked with a move across the midlands to Worcester.

Diggin dismissed that as a wild rumour and says he always wanted to sign a new contract with the club he supported as a boy.

“It just shows how good the club is when our boss doesn’t want to leave to go to England,” said Diggin.

“That is the biggest carrot dangled in the front of him, he was the best man for it, so it shows how important this club is to him and to the players that are re-signing and the players that we will bring in.

“I had no hesitation signing on again for as long as I can. We have a great team and you couldn’t want anything more.”

Diggin has played just nine times this season and there was a period earlier on in the season when he was a long way down the wing pecking order.

He has notched just one try this term, a far cry from the sort of form that saw Diggin end last season as Saints’ top try-scorer with 14 and played in the Heineken Cup final.

It was reported in The Rugby Paper that he was set to join Worcester along with Scott Armstrong, who is actually contracted to Saints for next season, but Diggin says that was just because his good friend and ex-Saint Neil Best plays at Sixways.

“It is brilliant signing for Saints again,” said Diggin. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else. When the deal was put on the table I had no hesitation in signing - it took me about two days.

“There are always rumours this time of the year. The Rugby Paper scroll through the internet and listen to whatever somebody makes up. If somebody said I was going to Australia it would end up in the paper.

“I think it is because one of my best friends plays at Worcester that I get linked with them. The same thing happened a couple of years ago, it seems to be the automatic choice.”

After finding his route to the first team blocked by a Noah Cato, Jamie Elliott and Vasily Artemyev Diggin has been revitalised at full-back and become useful cover with Ben Foden on international duty.

He has played the last four games at 15 for Saints and is expected to keep hold of the shirt for Sunday’s trip to Madejski Stadium.

His size might mean he will have a few bombs landing his way, but he has dealt with everything thrown at him and his experience has helped to guide the back three.

“I love it at full-back,” said Diggin. “You get your hands on the ball so much more, you can have a little bit more of an impression on the game.

“Sometimes I still find myself running winger’s lines and I have to think; ‘no, you have to run over there now’.

“I feel as though I am getting a little better every week the more I play there. A lot of it is reading it from the back, second-guessing what their kicker’s going to do so you are in the right position, and working with your wingers.”

Diggin has played at full-back before, but that was before Jim Mallinder and then Foden arrived at Franklin’s Gardens.

“Before Ben Foden decided he was going to be one of the world’s best players I played there,” said Diggin. “I had a good few run-outs at full-back but that dried up a bit when you have one of the world’s best full-backs at the club, which is brilliant for us as well.

“I have really enjoyed it and it shows I can be moved along the backline and slot in and do a job. I don’t know if what I say is right all the time, but I do scream a lot.”