Although much of the talk at the beginning of the season for Northampton Saints is based around the big name signings such as George North, what many will forget is the amount of young talent the squad is brimming with. Here we take a look at six youngsters in the squad who could be set for a breakthrough season…
Alex Waller is an exciting prospect for Northampton Saints and could be set for a huge season at the club. With regular loosehead Soane Tonga’uiha having left the club for Racing Metro over the summer this could be a huge opportunity for Waller. Saints boss Jim Mallinder has brought in Alex Corbisiero as a direct replacement for Tonga’uiha but his recent injury record and international duties mean Alex could be set for plenty of game time once again this season.
Alex’s younger brother Ethan who also plays prop could have an equally important role to play this season with Brian Mujati having left the club.Despite not having as much experience as his elder sibling, Ethan will still have an important role to play in providing cover for the Saints front row. The club has long held pride in the platform provided by its scrum, and the Waller’s will be hoping to be the cornerstones of the Northampton scrum for years to come.
Young winger Jamie Elliott has already received England honours at age-grade level and was unfortunate to miss out on England U20’s success this summer through injury. He provided more than adequate cover for the long-term injured Paul Diggin last season and will be hoping to challenge for a starting berth this season. Although he is becoming rapidly known for his electric pace down the wing, his defensive work is also outstanding as highlighted in his try saving tackle during the Heineken Cup game at Ravenhill last season.
At 25 Burrell may be considered less of a rising star than some of the other youngsters in this series but his rise last season sees him included anyway. A difficult couple of seasons saw Burrell leave relegated Leeds Carnegie only to sit on the sidelines for most of the next season at Sale Sharks. A new lease of life under Jim Mallinder at Northampton Saints last season however saw him earn England recognition this summer. The barnstorming centre could be key in helping to unlock the likes of George North and Jamie Elliott this season.
The younger brother of George Pisi, Ken has already started making his mark at Franklin’s Gardens. Ken brilliantly combines pace and power in a typical Samoan style and could be set to flourish further with Kahn Fotuali’i having just been signed to the team. With Pisi and North down the wings Northampton Saints look set to be deadly on the break and could easily go one better than last season and claim the Premiership crown.
Young flanker Ben Nutley has been likened to ex-England captain Lewis Moody for his no-holds barred style of play and total commitment to the cause. Making 10 appearances for the Saints first team last term, Nutley looks set to challenge a number of established internationals in the current Northampton backrow.
Let us know who you think will be most important for Northampton Saints this season…