Oakley relishing chance to shine at Saints

EXCITING TIMES - Rhys Oakley is ready for the east midlands derby (picture by Linda Dawson)
EXCITING TIMES - Rhys Oakley is ready for the east midlands derby (picture by Linda Dawson)

Summer signing Rhys Oakley says he is loving his time at Saints.

Oakley spent last season at French side Bourgoin but departed after the club suffered financial difficulties.

Saints moved to take him on trial and since then he has gone on to pen a permanent deal and become a regular fixture in the side.

He started both of the recent Heineken Cup encounters, and despite Saints suffering defeat to Castres last time out, the 32-year-old couldn’t be happier.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said the No.8, who also lists Leeds Carnegie and Newport Gwent Dragons among his former clubs. “I’ve enjoyed what’s been going on here and I love playing for Northampton.

“I’m really enjoying my time here. A new player at a new club just wants to play and I’m the same as everyone else in that respect.”

Part of Oakley’s enjoyment stems from playing behind one of the most revered packs in the European game.

It didn’t function as Saints would have hoped at Castres as they fell to a 21-16 defeat in Toulouse, and Oakley knows the areas that need working on.

“I think it’s one of the strongest packs in Europe on our day,” he said. “We had some errors on Friday, we’ve got some things we need to fix up individually but as a pack of eight it’s the best I’ve ever played in and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

Saints have the ideal chance to bounce back from their European defeat, when Aviva Premiership rivals Saracens come to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

And Oakley said: “That’s the best thing about playing for Northampton, you get to play against another giant of Europe the next weekend and it’s a chance to put things right.”