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Saints confirm player exits
PA Sport
May 1, 2008

Northampton have confirmed the departure of several squad members as they prepare for their Guinness Premiership return.

New Zealand scrum-half Mark Robinson is the highest-profile player to leave Franklin's Gardens, heading a list that includes flankers Darren Fox and Paul Tupai, prop Chris Budgen and lock Christian Short.

Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said: ''Every player this season has played their part in the promotion back to the Guinness Premiership.

''Competition for places has been fierce and standards have been maintained throughout the season.

''I would like to thank each player who is leaving for their efforts, and wish them the best for the future.''

New arrivals include exciting Sale Sharks prospect Ben Foden, Ulster forward Neil Best and Foden's current team-mate, Sharks lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe.

But it looks as though South Africa's World Cup-winning second-row forward Victor Matfield could decide against a move to the Premiership.

Matfield, thought to be a £300,000-a-year target for Saints, is currently at French second division club Toulon, where he took up a six-month contract in January.

He faces a decision between Northampton and a return to Pretoria-based Super 14 side Bulls, with the South Africa option now looking favourite.

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