Saints boss Boyd hasn't been able to pick his best side

Chris Boyd will depart Saints this summer having spent four seasons at the club.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 1:06 pm
Saints boss Chris Boyd
Saints boss Chris Boyd

So it felt only right to ask him now just how close to this team is to the one he envisaged building when he arrived from the Hurricanes in the summer of 2018.

Has he finally get Saints to the level he wanted ahead of his departure at the conclusion of the current campaign?

"I don’t think in the four years we’ve ever picked what I would consider was our best side – it just hasn’t happened,” Boyd said.

"You’ve constantly got a rotation of guys injured, coming back from short-term niggles and guys with long-term niggles.

"You think you’re just about ready to make a choice between player A and player B but then someone gets dinged and something happens.

“Even this year we haven’t been able to get Teimana Harrison and Woody (Tom Wood) and Courtney (Lawes), Juarno (Augustus), Luds (Lewis Ludlam) and now Aaron Hinkley all fit together.

"We haven’t had the chance to have them all competing for positions but that’s life in the Premiership and that’s why you’ve got 50 players in your squad.

"It does come down to a whole squad situation."

Boyd believes many of his players have matured a lot since he took over.

He said: "I think the biggest thing that I’ve noticed even watching training this week is the extra responsibility players are taking now.

"When I first came here, Dan Biggar was having to shoulder a lot of the responsibility of talking on the field and holding guys to account.

"We had Dylan (Hartley) but he was injured for a lot of my first year here and retired so it left guys like Alex Waller, Tom Wood and Biggs, who was a very big part of it.

"I watched with interest this week that Biggs is now able to concentrate on running the game far more because of the emergence of people like Lewis Ludlam, like Fraser Dingwall, like George Furbank, like Rory Hutchinson, like Alex Coles, like Alex Mitchell and Jimmy Grayson doing a good job.

"Those guys were all Academy players when I first arrived and they have all taken a little time to find their voice, but collectively they have now taken over driving a lot of things in the organisation.

"It has freed the burden of Dan Biggar running the game and having an influence on the environment.

"The emergence of the ability of the young guys to lead and take control of the organisation has been particularly satisfying.”

Saints will hope all of their players will be able to step up and steer the club into the Gallagher Premiership play-offs this weekend.

The black, green and gold host Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, knowing a win in the final-day fixture would set up a semi-final seven days later.

And ahead of his final home game in charge, Boyd said: “Being at home is great and the fact it's all but sold out is great.

"Eight weeks ago we were sitting eighth so we've got a bit of momentum and we need to keep it going.

"It's been very unusual because we've only played one game in a month but we're not the only side to do that.

"You'd question whether the schedule was right with so many sides getting so little rugby.

"We've tried to keep everyone sharp so we'll wait and see.”

While Saints will be looking to send Boyd off in style in the coming weeks, Newcastle have the same aim for Dean Richards in their final game with him in charge.

"Dean Richards has had a great run in the Premiership over a long period of time and he's a great servant for English rugby generally as a player and as a coach,” Boyd said. “He's a good man.

“Newcastle have beaten us here the last two or three times and they're an abrasive forward pack with a lot of runners in the backline.

"They've got some real quality, dangerous packs, a real workmanlike forward pack, a very good forward pack in fact.

"It's a time of the year where different teams have different motivations, whether they've started rebuilding for next year or they want to finish in a tidy manner or they want to send players away well.

"There are different motives around motivation but we're certainly not going to take them lightly because we haven't got a good track record against them.”