Mallinder says Hanrahan is the first of Saints’ new breed

MORE SIGNINGS TO COME - Jim Mallinder is reshaping his Saints squad for next season
MORE SIGNINGS TO COME - Jim Mallinder is reshaping his Saints squad for next season

Jim Mallinder says there are more new faces to come after Saints secured the signature of Munster star JJ Hanrahan.

Hanrahan will move to Franklin’s Gardens during the summer as Saints strengthen their options for next season.

The 22-year-old has played more than 50 times for Munster, scoring 229 points in the process, and was last season named the province’s young player of the year.

The capture of such a highly-rated player is a coup for Saints - and Mallinder, who will lose Samu Manoa and Salesi Ma’afu to Toulon this summer, is in the market for more fresh faces.

“We’re making good progress in terms of who we want,” said the director of rugby.

“JJ is the first and we’ve got a few other signings who we’re looking to bring in for next season.”

Hanrahan, who can play at fly-half, centre and full-back, has been brought in to challenge 30-year-old Stephen Myler for the Saints No.10 shirt.

And Mallinder the acquisition of the winner of the 2014 RaboDirect PRO12 Golden Boot award will be a big boost.

“You can’t rely on one person playing every single game of the season or 80 minutes of every game of the season - it just doesn’t happen,” said Mallinder, when asked how Myler, who has made the Saints fly-half spot his own during the past year and a half, will react to the signing.

“We’ve seen in certain positions that we’ve got at the club where swapping things around a bit, freshening things up at the right time helps.

“We’ll always pick our best players for the big games, but sometimes you need to look after your best players and see them through.

“Stephen’s not getting any younger, he’s played a lot of games for us, kicked a lot of points, and it will be good to have someone there who can share the workload.”

Hanrahan is highly rated at Munster, with many of the club’s fans meeting the news of his departure with disappointment.

But Mallinder feels it is the right move for the youngster, who has represented Ireland at Under 20 level.

“For somebody like JJ, it’s a massive move to leave a province like Munster because, similar to Northampton, it’s a massive club, one of the best in Europe,” he said.

“He’s leaving because he wants to become a better player.

“He’s not saying ‘I don’t ever want to play again for Munster’. He certainly wants to play for Ireland.

“He wants to be the best player he can and he’s got an opportunity playing the way we play, learning from our coaches, to achieve that.”