JIM MALLINDER is hugely disappointed to lose Irish aces James Downey and Roger Wilson.
But the director of rugby says Saints will only get stronger as they look to add to their squad this summer.
Downey and Wilson have been fine servants at Franklin’s Gardens since joining in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
But they are both moving back to their homeland this summer, with Downey heading to Munster and Wilson returning to Ulster.
They will leave big holes in the Saints side, but Mallinder is confident he can replace the duo and ensure his side progresses in their absence.
“We’re disappointed that we’re going to lose certain ones – James Downey and Roger Wilson have been absolutely outstanding through the years they’ve been here – but the club progresses and moves on,” he said.
“We’ve got some very exciting young, new players arriving at the club and we’ll only get stronger as we move forward.
“But Roger Wilson and James Downey have been outstanding and they’ve put their bodies on the line for us over the last five years. They’ve been brilliant.
“It’s just summed up with their performance on Saturday, the pair of them were outstanding.”
It wasn’t the final season to remember for Downey and Wilson as Saints failed in their quest for silverware.
They were hit by international call-ups during the World Cup and Six Nations, leaving them uncertain of a play-off place until the final day of the season.
They failed to get out of their pool in the Heineken Cup despite a couple of fine performances, at Munster and Scarlets, and lost in the LV= Cup final to Leicester.
Consequently, Mallinder has mixed feelings on a mixed campaign for his side.
He said: “We’ve had some highs, some great times and we’ve had a few lows and I guess that’s what professional rugby’s all about.”