Double-winner Day backs Saints' Premiership title bid

Former Saints second row Christian Day believes his old side have a 'good shot' of winning the Premiership to send departing boss Chris Boyd off in a blaze of glory.

By Josh Graham
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 7:00 am
Christian Day with current Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson after the Premiership title win at Twickenham in 2014
Christian Day with current Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson after the Premiership title win at Twickenham in 2014

Saints are in pole position to claim fourth spot after a late flourish at Saracens saw them take two bonus points from a 42-38 defeat.

It kept their fate in their own hands as victory at home to Newcastle Falcons on Saturday will secure a play-off semi-final place.

Boyd is returning to his native New Zealand at the end of the season after four years in charge, with Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty stepping up to director of rugby and head coach respectively while he retains a position as a long-distance consultant.

And 38-year-old Day, who made 226 appearances in a decade at Franklin’s Gardens from 2008 to 2018, believes Saints’ exciting brand of rugby can deliver the perfect finale for their boss, with current league leaders Leicester Tigers their likely semi-final opponents and Saracens or Harlequins their potential opposition in a Twickenham final.

“It is Mr Boyd’s last year in charge and it’s a chance for him to leave a bit of a legacy with a trophy,” said Day, a senior member of the Rugby Players Association and a member of UKAD’s Athlete Commission.

“They certainly shouldn’t be taking things for granted against Newcastle but I’m sure they’ll be trying to put in a good performance and go into the semi-finals thinking they can beat anyone on their day to pick up the trophy.

“As the standings currently are, it sets up a mouth-watering clash against Leicester Tigers in the semi-finals, the East Midlands derby which has a fair amount of history to it.

“The Saints team is a very exciting team. On their day they can genuinely beat anyone.

"For them it’s about consistency of performance, they need three wins to get themselves a trophy.

“They play a really exciting brand of rugby and the Saints now have a talented crop of young players, they need to start showing that consistency.

“And if they do perform consistently in the next three games then I honestly believe they have a good shot at winning the big trophy.”

Day has been particularly impressed with the emergence of lightning-quick back Tommy Freeman as well as the continued development of scrum-half Alex Mitchell and the captaincy of flanker Lewis Ludlam, tipping all three to soon be wearing an England shirt.

And given Saints also boast the likes of international duo Courtney Lawes and Dan Biggar, who captained England and Wales against each other in this year’s Six Nations, they are finding the perfect blend of youth and experience approaching the business end of the season.

Day added: “Alex Mitchell at scrum-half has been outstanding all year and is right on the verge of that England team.

“Another man in the backline is Tommy Freeman who is an exciting young player who will be touring Australia with England this summer, with a chance for a big break-out moment then.

“We don’t need to talk about how quality Dan Biggar and Courtney Lawes are, and Lewis Ludlam has been unlucky with injuries of late.

“He’s been performing really well for Saints and has been given a bit of a leadership role this year which I feel has really suited him and done him well.”

Clean Sport Week, which runs from May 23-27, is UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD’s) national awareness week, championing clean sport, education, and anti-doping initiatives with sports across the UK.