Hanrahan so impressed with power of Saints’ pack

JJ Hanrahan has enjoyed a good start to his Saints career (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
JJ Hanrahan has enjoyed a good start to his Saints career (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

JJ Hanrahan is delighted to finally be on the right side of Saints’ forward power.

The utility back relished lining up behind the dominant Northampton pack after moving from Munster during the summer.

Saints have been bullying teams up front in recent weeks, with Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors and Gloucester all failing to match the physicality of Jim Mallinder’s men.

Hanrahan has been doing his best to make the most of the hard work done by the team’s enforcers, with the 23-year-old enjoying spells at 10 and 12.

And he said: “I haven’t been surprised with how things have gone.

“One of the main reasons for coming here during the summer was knowing we would have a pack that can get us front-foot ball.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t have front-foot ball it’s hard to play behind.

“I always knew from watching Northampton that they had a good pack.

“Munster have been on the receiving end of Northampton’s pack over the years.

“I knew from talking to experienced players at Munster what the Northampton pack offered and I wasn’t a bit surprised to see what has been happening since I came here.”

While Hanrahan has been impressed with all of Saints’ forward players, one man has really stood out.

Kieran Brookes, like Hanrahan, moved to Franklin’s Gardens during the summer, and the former Newcastle Falcons player has been in superb for this season.

“Kieran Brookes has come in and been rock solid for us,” Hanrahan said.

“There’s a couple of guys behind him really pushing him and that competition helps.

“It’s an all eight effort, not just one player, and you can see the way (forwards coach) Dorian West puts them through drills.

“They’ve been excellent for us and you badly need that in this weather.”

Saints are now steeling themselves for an Aviva Premiership battle at Bath on Saturday afternoon.

And Hanrahan said: “I haven’t played against Bath, but they play a really good brand of attacking rugby.

“They have really good ball handlers in the back line and a good pack so it’s going to be a tough challenge.

“I’ve watched Bath play at The Rec on television a few times and it always seems to be a sell-out down there.

“It will be a good crowd and it should be enjoyable hopefully.”

Neither team has started the season in the fashion they would have liked, with last season’s table-toppers Saints sitting sixth and grand final runners-up Bath down in eighth.

And Hanrahan admits both sides would have expected to be in a better position after five games.

“They definitely would so it’s kind of a mid-table clash and it’s important for both teams,” he said.

“Winning becomes a habit and when you get on a roll it can be quite important for a group.

“It makes it easier to come into training because everyone’s buzzing.

“That’s the same in all walks of life and when you win, things are easier.

“When you don’t, you have to correct things.”