Haywood and Waller an example of Saints’ strength, says Mallinder

STEPPING UP - Alex Waller and Mike Haywood impressed against Saracens (picture: Linda Dawson)
STEPPING UP - Alex Waller and Mike Haywood impressed against Saracens (picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder believes the Saints squad is getting stronger all the time.

And he highlighted emerging talents Alex Waller and Mike Haywood as key examples of the improvement of options he now has at his disposal.

The duo stepped up to the plate in the absence of England stars Alex Corbisiero and Dylan Hartley in the 41-20 victory against Saracens last weekend.

It was the second weekend in succession that 23-year-old loosehead prop Waller had impressed as he added a powerful performance against Matt Stevens to a strong showing against Ospreys’ Adam Jones six days earlier.

And 21-year-old hooker Haywood’s display was also noteworthy as he went head-to-head with South African star Schalk Brits and emerged with an immense amount of credit.

The win against a Saracens side who remain top of the table despite losing for the first time this season showed Saints can compete when shorn of their international stars.

They had six missing in total and Mallinder feels the six-try success was symptomatic of a strengthening in the squad’s depth this season.

“I think we’re getting stronger,” said the director of rugby. “I hate to mention names but I think up front Alex Waller for the second week has come up against a quality international tighhead and played brilliantly.

“Mikey Haywood came in, he’s not played much rugby, he’s been behind Dylan Hartley and he had a great game in the loose. His throwing in was very, very good.

“I guess you could go throughout the team. I’m really pleased with the lads who have come in. It’s pleasing.”