Tom Vickers’ Worcester v Saints preview: Not all about England stars

BACK ON SAINTS DUTY - Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley have been released by England for this weekend's game
BACK ON SAINTS DUTY - Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley have been released by England for this weekend's game

Upon hearing that Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes had been released by England earlier this week, it was easy to imagine the duo riding to the rescue of Saints’ season.

In fairytale land, the two sizeable knights in shining armour would slay the Worcester Warriors and get their team back on track.

Sixways would be conquered and the likes of Wasps and Gloucester would be quaking in their boots as their Premiership play-off hopes crumbled under the boots of the green, black and gold army.

But this tale is not one Saints boss Jim Mallinder wants to subscribe to. Instead, he is focusing his attentions on the other members of his squad.

The members who struggled against Gloucester last weekend, slumping to a 27-11 defeat at a ground, Franklin’s Gardens, that is no longer their fortress.

He wants them to be the heroes, rather than again reading headlines which include the names Hartley, Lawes and Ben Foden.

“It helps when you have your internationals back, but what we can’t do is think of them as our saviours coming to save the team,” said Mallinder at Saints’ windswept training session at Northampton Academy this week.

“It’s up to the other lads really. The internationals will come back and they’ll do a good job for us, but we need everybody else.

“We need our senior players, who played last week and the week before. They’re the players we need to step up.

“We need the younger lads, who I was really pleased with last week, to play well and if we all muck in with a massive team effort then we can win.”

However, it must be pointed out that Saints are not the only ones who have felt the effect of the Six Nations.

Saracens succumbed to London Irish last weekend, while champions Harlequins saw their proud home record ripped up by Wasps.

Leicester were the only member of last season’s top four to win, edging to victory against a London Welsh side who are nervously eyeing the top division’s trap door.

There’s no doubt international omissions cost teams dear, but there are only so many times you can call for the cavalry.

Champions are made of stern stuff, and Mallinder is right to want the men not involved in the international action to step up to the plate.

Now it’s time to see if they can, or whether the England players will again take centre stage.