Retiring 'Northampton legend' Haywood has shown the way, says Saints boss Dowson

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Phil Dowson says 'Northampton legend' Mike Haywood is the perfect template for Saints' current Academy players.

The 31-year-old has made the decision to hang up his boots at the conclusion of the current campaign.

He will take up a coaching role at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich – a school which brought through Saints first-team players Lewis Ludlam, Alex Moon, Emmanuel Iyogun and Karl Wilkins.

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Haywood made his Saints debut back in 2011 and has gone on to rack up 269 appearances to date.

Phil DowsonPhil Dowson
Phil Dowson

The hooker started both finals in 2014 as the black, green and gold secured glory in the Premiership and European Challenge Cup.

And Dowson said: “Mikey epitomises the journey that we want all our Academy players to go on. We want to see local players turning out week after week for the club, being successful, and pulling on the jersey over 250 times.

“He started both finals in 2014, and that speaks to how well he was playing during that period – arguably the most successful in the club’s history – to keep someone like Dylan Hartley on the sidelines.

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"He’s kept that level up for the best part of 13 seasons now, which is a seriously impressive achievement.

“Mikey’s always been a high energy and highly skilled player, but he’s also tenacious, a battler and tough.

"He’s always had the ‘Saints First’ mentality that we talk about, and contributed massively to the group both on and off the field.

“He’s now completely focused on becoming the best coach he can be – he’s already been in the offices, picking the brains of our coaching group when he can.

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"He’s very keen to stay involved with our Saints Academy process out in East Anglia, and to have a Northampton legend doing that out there is a very good outcome for the club.

“At some point for every player, no matter how much you love the opportunities presented to you on the field, the opportunities off the field start to outweigh them.

“Mikey spent a long time thinking about this decision, but the chance to coach at St Joseph’s College and start a new career within the world of rugby, which he loves, is fantastic for him.

"So, we’re delighted with how his journey has worked out, and wish him the best for his new role.”