Saints boss Boyd explains his change of heart over loan signing from Saracens

"I said to (Saints CEO) Mark (Darbon) 'there's no way we're going to have a Saracens player here for a short time and let him go again'."

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 12:05 pm
Saints boss Chris Boyd

That was the response of Chris Boyd when asked about the year-long loan signing of Nick Isiekwe from Saracens.

Boyd went on to explain how he had a change of heart on bringing in a player from Allianz Park on a temporary deal.

And he outlined why at Saints' online season ticket holders' forum on Wednesday night.

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"I was opposed in the first instance," Boyd said.

"But the more I thought about the fact that I couldn't quite find the right replacement for Heinrich (Brüssow, who retired last October), it made sense.

"It also makes sense because we've got a couple of youngsters who are going to come on and be really good players.

"The more we sat and looked at the make-up of our team and where we allocated our financial resources, it made sense.

"The other thing is that the next 12 months will be fairly brutal for players because of the fixtures and so the confidence and depth in your squad is really important.

"Someone like Teimana (Harrison) always wants to play but I've got to save him from himself occasionally otherwise he's going to burn himself out.

"If you put the jigsaw puzzle together with locks and loose forwards that we've got - we have the ability for Courtney (Lawes) and Nick Isiekwe to switch between locks and loose forwards - we've got some real good depth for next year."

After Brüssow's retirement, Saints suffered badly with second row and back row injuries last season, forcing the likes of Tom Wood and Harrison to play far more than would have initially been expected.

It also pushed talented young lock Alex Coles into the first-team picture far earlier than Boyd wanted.

And the signing of Isiekwe, who has just penned a new Saracens deal until the summer of 2024, means Saints are now able to take more time with how they manage their own young players.

"We've been looking for 12 months to get a replacement for Heinrich Brussow," Boyd explained.

"For those guys who look back to the 2009 Lions tour in South Africa, Heinrich was almost single-handedly responsible for the performances of South Afica in that series.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful world class player.

"Unfortunately because of injury we didn't get the best out of him which was really disappointing for him.

"He chose to retire in the early part of the season and we've been looking for a long time to get a replacement for Heinrich but we haven't been able to find that person.

"So what we've done is taken Nick Isiekwe on loan for a year and he fits with what we're trying to do with our group.

"He'll be a really good addition to bolster our second and back rows and we're really excited he's going to join us.

"Apart from that, we're not vastly different to last year and if I look at the projections out to 2023/24/25, as long as people are enjoying their stuff and enjoying what we're doing, hopefully we're going to get a nice, stable squad for the next three or four years."