PAUL DORAN-JONES believes Saints’ week in France was productive - despite Friday’s defeat to Zebre.
The squad returned home yesterday after a trip which included a Vaquerin Challenge clash with the Italian side at Millau.
It wasn’t to be the result Saints wanted as they went down 30-28 after conceding two late tries.
But the friendly defeat didn’t faze Doran-Jones and he says the week abroad has been a big help as preparations for the new season intensify.
“It was very hot conditions against side who were really up for it,” said the prop after Friday night’s defeat. “You saw their celebration at the end - they were delighted to win and to beat us.
“It was hard work but we’ve had a good week, a productive week. It’s a new group and we’ve worked really hard. It was good for us to get out and get the cobwebs out after the summer.
“There are a few bits to put right but you expect that and I’m looking forward to getting back to training on Monday morning.”
Saints boss Jim Mallinder took the opportunity to give game time to 31 players at mountainous Millau, changing almost the entire team at half-time.
It led to a slightly disjointed showing from the side as Zebre eventually took advantage of errors in the opposition ranks.
But Doran-Jones knows Saints will get better as pre-season progresses and though he was disappointed with the defeat, the England star recognised the result wasn’t important.
“We’ve got such a young squad and as you saw we’ve got two new 15s so it’s hard to get that cohesion straight away,” he said.
“That comes with games. They probably played a couple more games than us and looked a little bit slicker with the handling. Those things have just got to come back to us and they don’t come instantly.
“Jim said don’t get too down with the result. Obviously we’re all gutted because we want to win every game but it’s more about getting out there, getting the ball in your hands, doing scrimmaging and set pieces so we did a bit of that and we’ll look forward to Saturday against Leinster.”