Mallinder up for the fight at Saints as Dublin date beckons

If you've done something once, you can do it again.

Friday, 16th December 2016, 7:00 am
Jim Mallinder believes Saints can deliver in Dublin (picture: Sharon Lucey)

That will be the mentality among the Saints players as they head to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

Because, three years ago, Jim Mallinder’s men marched to Dublin and upset the odds in stunning style.

They produced an heroic display, bouncing back from their 40-7 humiliation against Leinster at Franklin’s Gardens to turn the tables on the Irish giants.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Some incredible defensive defiance was followed by a brilliant breakaway try from Jamie Elliott.

It sealed an incredible 18-9 victory that would be remembered for years to come.

And Saints went on an unbeaten run of 13 matches, eventually winning the Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup that season.

It would almost be ridiculous that the same sort of success could be achieved this season, especially as Saints are ninth in the Premiership and seven points behind Leinster in Champions Cup Pool 4.

But they have to believe, and they have to put in a performance that can somehow steer the ship out of what are incredibly choppy waters at the Gardens right now.

They were beaten 37-10 by Leinster in Northampton last Friday - and they need a huge response this weekend.

“You look back on games like the one in 2013 to show that everything is possible,” said Saints boss Mallinder.

“We know we’ve not been going well and we’ve not been playing quite as well as we would want, but when we look round that changing room, we know we’ve got lots of good players.

“We just need to pull it together and there’s a feeling that we can do it. It starts this weekend.

“We know Leinster are going to be tough playing in the Aviva Stadium, but we need to build a performance and then keep that going.

“We’ve got three massive league games after Leinster: Sale at home and Bristol at home, with Gloucester away in the middle.

“Those are three games we really must target to start moving up the league.”

Mallinder has come under fire from Saints fans frustrated on the back of three successive defeats and a disappointing first half of the season in general.

But when asked whether this was his toughest challenge during his time at Saints, who he joined in 2007, he said: “Challenging is a good word.

“But you don’t come into this sport and do a job as director of rugby without knowing there’s always going to be these periods where you do get major challenges.

“I look back to when we won the Premiership and the season when we finished top of the league (2014/15), and you think everything’s going smoothly, but there’s always things going on.

“Yes, we’ve got a bit more going on than we’d like, but that’s part of the job and you’ve got to take those challenges head on, stick together, work hard, solve the problems and hopefully we’ll see the results on Saturday evening.”

Mallinder was later asked whether he feels his job at Saints is secure.

And he said: “Am I comfortable in my position? No, I’m not comfortable, because I want to be top of the league, I want to have a fourth game in Europe where we’re winning, I want to have supporters who are buzzing, but I haven’t got that, so I’m not comfortable.

“But I’m working hard to turn all of these issues around and get the club back to winning ways.”

Mallinder has also responded to previous speculation linking Pat Lam with his position at Saints.

Lam has agreed to become boss of Bristol next summer, but there were reports that he had turned down Saints, however this publication understands he was not contacted.

Mallinder said: “If I read and believed all the rumours, my head would be completely muddled and I wouldn’t sleep at night.

“I don’t worry about that. I’m contracted here as director of rugby and my job is to make the team better.”