Dowson explains Saints squad management as he praises guest players

Phil Dowson has outlined how he plans to manage his squad in the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership curtain raiser at Sale Sharks on October 15.
Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And the Saints boss has praised the quartet of guest players who played in the pre-season opener at Bedford Blues on Saturday.

Former London Irish and San Diego Legion loosehead prop Luke Green started for the black, green and gold at Goldington Road.

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Izaiha Moore-Aiono (formerly London Irish), Theo Vukasinovic (formerly Wasps and Doncaster Knights) and Toby Fricker (formerly Bristol Bears) came off the bench.

And Dowson has explained why Saints fielded a squad shorn of so many first-team regulars against the Blues.

"We've got five PRC games, two friendlies before the Premiership even starts so it's about managing the squad," Dowson said.

"Not every player is going to play every game, there's no break weeks once the season starts so managing the squad is going to be really important to how we prepare for the season.

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"Those younger guys need an opportunity to play to get up to speed and to get those guys opportunity on a stage like this to find out what they're about is really important."

On the players drafted in from outside of the squad, Dowson said: "We took a couple of soft tissue injuries in the past couple of weeks so these guys have come in looking for an opportunity.

"Sadly, with Wasps, Worcester and Irish going, there's guys who are available and looking for contracts.

"All the guys who have come in, I can't speak highly enough of their professionalism and of how they've adapted to life as a Saint.

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"To a man, they've been absolutely excellent so I'm really pleased with those guys coming in, and I thought a lot of them did some really good stuff on the pitch as well."

So will Saints select a stronger, more experienced side for their second and final pre-season fixture, at home to the Barbarians, on Saturday?

"Potentially, but we don't necessarily want those senior guys playing five or six games on the bounce before going into the Premiership," Dowson said.

"We have to manage the squad, and how many minutes you play now will have an impact on how many minutes you play once the season starts.

"That squad depth is really important and that's what we're challenging at the moment."