'Horne will be massively missed': Saints react to Rob's retirement
Last week, the Saints players were given the shocking news that Rob Horne had been forced to retire after suffering career-ending nerve damage to his right arm.
The Australian centre, leading by example as ever, threw himself into a collision with Leicester Tigers No.8 Sione Kalamafoni just 12 seconds into the east midlands derby at Welford Road on April 14.
He required lengthy treatment on the field and was then stretchered off before being taken straight to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Horne spent the weekend at the hospital, receiving specialist care for the arm injury as well as recovering from the concussion he also sustained in the tackle.
And seven days on from their 27-21 win, Saints made the announcement that rocked rugby as the club revealed the 28-year-old would not be able to play again.
It would have been a huge shock no matter which player it was, but that fact it was Horne made it even more difficult to deal with.
He had become a huge part of the Franklin's Gardens squad since switching from Super Rugby side the Waratahs last summer and was so well respected that he was handed the captaincy for the first time for the day at Welford Road.
He remains Saints' top try scorer this season with eight efforts in 21 matches and on Wednesday, coach Alan Dickens and team-mates Piers Francis and Teimana Harrison took time to discuss how much of an impact Horne has had on them and their club.
Alan Dickens: "It has been difficult with the news about Rob having to finish in his career.
"In terms of how it has affected individuals, everyone is different and takes the news differently.
"What we need to do as a club is first and foremost look after the best interests of Rob and his family and how the players will react, we don’t know, but we need to provide opportunity for the players to talk through issues if they have any and that’s our focus in regards to what has happened.
"I have seen him once and that was the Sunday at the Leicester hospital and he was pretty upbeat then.
"I have texted him and said I will follow his lead.
"He will be inundated with well-wishers and text messages.
"When he is ready to go for a cup of tea then I will be there.
"On Wednesday, when we played the Army for the Mobbs Memorial Match, the news was broken to the squad by Matt Lee, the head physio here.
"It was a pretty sombre place. A lot of players were dumbfounded. There was a lot of silence.
"We are devastated with what has happened and him having to finish his career at 28.
"Our focus at the minute is to support Rob and his family through this transitional period of his life.
"I can’t speak highly enough of what he did in the build-up to the Leicester game.
"The coaches were unanimous in terms of asking him to lead the side out.
"He was privileged and honoured and I think quite taken aback to be asked.
"He led the team as well as we could have asked.
"He was the one who galvanised them and went there with the sole purpose of sticking together as a team."
Piers Francis: "It was hugely difficult to hear the news about Rob. It's a very tough situation and one you wouldn't want to happen to anybody.
"For it to happen to a top guy like Rob, it's an ever harder pill to swallow.
"I was massively enjoying my time playing alongside him, learning everything I could from him.
"He's going to be massively missed and it's a very tough time.
"He has been hugely influential and he was hugely influential in the result against Leicester.
"He was named captain for the week and he got us into a good position for the week.
"The result that came out of that day was full credit to him and I will deeply miss him.
"I've learned a lot from him, particularly on the defensive side of things and it's a very tough situation."
Teimana Harrison: "I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Rob too long but the times I've spent with him and the times I've played with him, he's been an outstanding leader.
"He commands the best out of you and it's a massive shame.
"It's a loss not only for us but for world rugby.
"He's had a positive impact on the Super Rugby scene, also playing for Australia and I think he had a lot more to do with us.
"It is a shame and all the boys have got his back. We're ready to do anything he needs us to do."