Saints boss Mallinder looking forward to ‘perfect’ challenge

ROLLING OUT THE BIG GUNS - Saints coach Jim Mallinder will give the club's international stars, such as Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden, their first action of pre-season at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

ROLLING OUT THE BIG GUNS - Saints coach Jim Mallinder will give the club's international stars, such as Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden, their first action of pre-season at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Jim Mallinder says Saturday’s Franklin’s Gardens double-header against Leinster and Moseley will provide the ‘perfect’ challenge for Saints.

Mallinder’s men take on the Irish giants at 2.30pm before clashing with the Championship team at 5pm.

It will allow Saints to give all of their squad members a run-out, with many getting their first action of pre-season.

The international players missed last weekend’s 33-28 victory against Rotherham Titans, with a blend of youth and experience utilised.

But Saints are likely to call on all of their big guns at some point this weekend, and Mallinder is relishing the chance to get his entire group back in the swing of things.

“In terms of our warm-up games, they’re excellent for us,” said the director of rugby, who will take his team to Newport-Gwent Dragons for their final friendly next Friday.

“I know Leinster don’t always play all their internationals, but they’re always well coached, they’ve always got some good players.

“It’s a perfect challenge for us, whether we play home or away, so we’re looking forward to it and it will give a lot of our players the chance to get their first bit of rugby this season.

“Then you combine that with the Moseley fixture, which is a perfect test as well.”

Mallinder will ease his star men back in after a summer which saw many of them head off for Test match duty.

And he is hoping for a similarly productive pre-season to the one last year, when Saints won all of their games and went on to enjoy back-to-back victories at the start of a title-winning campaign.

“This weekend won’t be 80 minutes for everyone,” Mallinder said. “It will be 20 for some, 30 or 40 for others.

“It’s perfect having the two games, we’ll swap things over and there may be some lads who play a little bit in both games.

“You never quite know how much to do. It’s a long season so you don’t want to go mad and have too many games.

“You’ve just got to be careful there, but we got it right last season and hopefully this year we can do the same.”