Saints boss Mallinder says flying start is vital


JIM MALLINDER says Saints must start better than they did last season – and has urged them to get something from their game at Gloucester on Saturday.

Mallinder’s men endured a sluggish start to the previous campaign, losing five of their first six Premiership matches.

It left them languishing in the bottom two at one point and gave them with a huge amount of work to do to achieve their aim of a top-four finish.

A good run of form eventually catapulted them into the play-offs, where they missed out in the semi-final at Harlequins.

But Mallinder, with his sights set on title glory, knows Saints can ill afford another poor start and wants them to begin with a bang at Kingsholm this weekend.

He said: “You need a bit of everything there and I don’t think we’re far off, but it’s a long season. It’s at least 32 games and last season we started badly.

“Last season at one stage we were second from bottom and that made it really hard work for the remainder of the season. We nearly got there.

“This season we’re looking to start better. We need to start better and that means coming away from Gloucester with something.”

Mallinder has had some tough selection decisions to make ahead of the game, with the majority of the squad enjoying good pre-seasons.

Saints thrashed Leinster and Edinburgh during their preparations for the new campaign and the boss has been revelling in the desire of his players.

“What we’ve got now is a really hungry squad,” said Mallinder. “I’ve had a number of conversations with players who are not in the team for the weekend already, who are desperate to be there and that’s what you want.

“We don’t want just 15 or 23 players who are content being the first team and the rest content to be Wanderers. We need all our squad to be pushing for that first team and be good enough.

“We’re getting to that stage where we’ve got serious depth all over the field, all over the team and hopefully when we get everybody back fit it will just add to that.”