ROGER WILSON is certain Northampton Saints are not far away from being one of the best teams in Europe.
And the departing No.8, who is moving back to former club Ulster this summer, is adamant Jim Mallinder will fix the side after this season’s disappointment.
Saints suffered an agonising defeat at Harlequins on Saturday, bowing out at the Premiership play-off semi-final stage for the third season running.
They had set their sights on league glory after failing to make it out of their pool in the Heineken Cup and losing in the LV= Cup final against Leicester Tigers.
But it wasn’t to be.
However, Wilson insists Mallinder is still the man for the job but says it is up to the players to provide the happy ending everyone at Northampton is desperate for.
“I’m not sure it’s necessarily up to Jim,” said the 30-year-old.
“When the players are out on the field, there’s only a certain amount Jim can do.
“It’s up to them. There’s nothing drastically technical that can be done.
“We’ve put ourselves in some great positions. In the Heineken Cup last year and against Quins – two games we should have, without doubt, won.
“We couldn’t close them out and you could argue it’s to do with the players’ mentality and the players just have to look at ourselves.
“It’s a difficult one to answer because it’s very difficult to pinpoint where it went wrong but we’re not that far away.
“We really are not that far away from being one of the best teams in Europe.”
Mallinder has enjoyed a successful stay at Saints, restoring them toamong England’s elite following the club’s relegation in 2007.
He has won National League One, the EDF Energy Cup, the European Challenge Cup and the LV= Cup and Wilson knows the boss has all the attributes needed to guide Saints to success in a major competition.
Wilson, who made 118 appearances in the green, black and gold, said: “You look at the strides this club’s taken over the past few years and they’re definitely in safe hands with Jim, Dorian (West) and Grays (Paul Grayson).
“They’re the right people for the job.
“They know rugby, they know how to get the team to gel together, it’s just that final little bit that has to come from the players to cross the finish line.”
n It’s all about belief – more rugby on page 42