Late Saints start is ‘a bit odd’ for England ace Brookes

Kieran Brookes (centre) has England duties to attend to before joining Saints
Kieran Brookes (centre) has England duties to attend to before joining Saints

The words in the brackets next to his name on RFU emails show that he is now a Northampton Saints player.

But for Kieran Brookes, there is a lot to fit in before he finally makes the move to Franklin’s Gardens.

The prop, formerly of Newcastle Falcons, is currently with England, having made the final cut ahead of the World Cup, which begins with a game against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18.

It has been a whirlwind summer - and things are about to get even more hectic for Brookes, who celebrated his 25th birthday with some welcome down time in Dartmoor last weekend.

Once he is done with England - and that could be as late as October 31 should Stuart Lancaster’s men make the final - he will head to Saints.

The club will already have started their season, with games against Worcester and Newcastle coming in the weeks before the World Cup showpiece.

And Brookes knows it is a strange scenario that he finds himself in, not having the traditional pre-season punishment to help him bond with his new team-mates.

“It is a bit odd, starting with a new club but not actually starting,” said the tighthead, who will be tasked with filling the boots of Toulon’s Salesi Ma’afu at the Gardens.

“But I know that it is the right time for me to move.

“I spoke to a couple of lads I already knew and then met up with Jim (Mallinder) and Westy (Dorian West) and decided it was the right place.

“The success of recent years came into it a lot.

“Playing with players like (Alex) Corbisiero and Dylan (Hartley) was massive for me and obviously working with Westy.

“There were a lot of factors that drew me to Saints: winning trophies, making the top four year in, year out and I also thought it was a massive opportunity to take my career to the next level.

“It would have been a tough move to turn down.”

And Brookes simply couldn’t refuse the chance to switch to Saints.

As he alludes to, he knows many of the current Northampton squad due to having met them on England duty.

And that should help remove a few of the new boy fears when he samples his first day at Franklin’s Gardens.

“I spoke to the lads I know at Northampton a lot during the decision making time,” said Brookes, who first heard of Saints’ interest around Christmas time.

“Courtney (Lawes) is here as well, I know Daisy (Christian Day) really well and I can’t wait to get involved.

“I spoke to Alex Waller, had a couple of conversations with him and he’s a great example of working with Dorian and coming up through the Academy.

“That’s made him the player he is and I’m really looking forward to working with Westy.”

Brookes, who spent two injury-hit years at Leicester before returning to Newcastle in 2013, will hope to emulate the likes of Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson, who both enjoyed successful switches from Falcons to Saints.

And he said: “They said it was one of the best environments they’ve ever been in and they just love being there.

“They feel like they developed every day so that was definitely something I took into consideration moving down.”