Saints could look to sign some World Cup ‘hidden gems’

Jim Mallinder has refused to rule out more signings at Saints (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Jim Mallinder has refused to rule out more signings at Saints (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder has refused to rule out making more signings and is hoping to unearth a few gems in the Rugby World Cup.

Mallinder has added the likes of JJ Hanrahan, Kieran Brookes and Victor Matfield to the group that topped the Aviva Premiership table last season.

But he says he is always on the look-out for men who can enhance Saints’ firepower.

And that means he and will be watching the World Cup closely to see whether anyone catches the eye.

“We never say that (the squad is set for the season),” Mallinder said.

“We’ve got a squad that we’re very, very happy with and we’re very, very close to our salary cap, but things always change.

“People get injured, people sometimes look to move on and we look to bring people in.

“(Recruitment and development manager) Dusty Hare will be having a look during the World Cup to see if there’s any hidden gems out there, and recruitment never stops.”

One man who left a big hole in the Saints squad during the summer was American star Samu Manoa, who joined Top 14 giants Toulon.

But Mallinder is happy with the options he has at No.8, with Jon Fisher and Sam Dickinson scrapping it out for the starting spot.

“We’ve got two outstanding No.8s,” Mallinder said.

“Sam Dickinson’s probably played a bit more than Jon, but we’ve seen some of the things Jon can do. He’s very, very talented.

“We’re very happy with those two competing for that No.8 position, but we do have other players who can play in that position as well and will be very comfortable in that role.”

England prop Brookes and South Africa star Matfield will have to wait to make their mark at Saints as both summer recruits have World Cup commitments.

But there will be plenty to look forward to when they arrive, with Mallinder delighted to have acquired the duo.

He said: “You can never have too many good, big men in your squad - we’ve found that through experience, even last season. You need those types of people.

“It will give us the ability to change and rotate everybody a little bit to keep everyone at tip-top condition.

“Victor is a very big man and very experienced as well, he’s probably done everything in rugby.

“His experience as well as his playing ability will be very, very useful for us.

“We have got some good second rows and he will go alongside that.”