Mallinder ‘happy’ as squad back to full strength


Jim Mallinder admits injuries and international commitments have made life difficult for Saints.

And he says he’s ‘very happy’ to have a strong squad to pick from for Friday’s Heineken Cup showdown with in-form Irish side Ulster.

Saints endured a four-match losing streak which spanned late October and early November.

But they have since got back to winning ways, claiming three victories on the spin ahead of this week’s return to European action.

The likes of Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and George Pisi were all back in action in the 27-16 win at Sale last Friday.

And England stars Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes will make their comebacks against Ulster after seeing off New Zealand at Twickenham last Saturday.

Mallinder said: “It’s very difficult when you’ve got a number of injuries and international call-ups. It’s not just England players being called up, it’s non-English players as well.

“We’re getting all those back now. We had Lee Dickson back on the bench last Friday.

“It’s difficult because sometimes you don’t get them (England players) back until Wednesday, that’s when we have our day off, and we do a light team run on a Thursday so it doesn’t give them time to prepare together.

“We’re very, very happy that these international games are over and we’ve got our full group back together.”

Mallinder is hopeful centre Dom Waldouck will be fit to play his part against an Ulster side who have won all 12 of their games this season.

Waldouck was forced off after just 26 minutes of the win at Sale after sustaining a big hit, with Tom May replacing him and going on to score a try.

“I think he’s a bit sore,” said Mallinder. “It was a big, old hit wasn’t it?

“He jarred his shoulder. He played on for a while not quite at 100 per cent and it was the right thing to do. Fingers crossed he’ll be fine.”