Mallinder joy at Lawes’ return for Saints

BACK IN THE THICK OF IT - Courtney Lawes in action for Saints at Bath on Friday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
BACK IN THE THICK OF IT - Courtney Lawes in action for Saints at Bath on Friday (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder says it’s good to have Courtney Lawes back after seeing the England star return for Saints at Bath on Friday night.

Lawes had not played since the game against Sale Sharks in February as shin and elbow injuries sidelined him for the end of last season and the start of this one.

But the 23-year-old was brought on 15 minutes into the second half at The Recreation Ground, and he got stuck in in trademark style to help Saints seal an 18-14 win.

Mallinder was delighted to have the 6ft 7in ace back in action and he’s now looking forward to seeing the player go from strength to strength in the coming weeks.

“He went well, he will only get better and it’s good for us as a team to have him back,” said the Saints boss.

“I think we’ve got some good options now, with Tom Wood playing well, he’s back in there, we’ve got Rhys Oakley having a good, sound start from eight and you need those quality players.

“We’ve lost (Gerrit-Jan) van Velze for disciplinary reasons for a few weeks so you need those options and it’s good that Courtney is back with us.”

Lawes’ introduction came at the expense of No.8 Oakley, who played 55 minutes in his first competitive start for Saints since signing on this summer.

The former Leeds Carnegie man put in a useful performance and Mallinder was impressed with the player, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday.

“I thought he played really well,” said the director of rugby. “I was impressed with his lineout work and his control from the base.

“He ran hard and it was good for his first start for the club.”

Meawnhile, the club are hoping Ben Foden’s ankle injury, suffered at The Rec, will not be as serious as first thought.

It was feared the England full-back had broken his ankle, but the player himself believes it is no more than a strain.

On Twitter on Saturday morning, Foden said: “Ankle is very sore and swollen this morning but hopefully not as bad as feared maybe just a bad roll! Physio at 12 to be sure. #rubberbones”