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Lamb sounds Saints rallying call
Tom Hamilton
October 22, 2011
The Northampton Saints face-off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers © Getty Images
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Northampton Saints fly-half Ryan Lamb believes experience on the field compensates for the squad's relatively tender years and has called on his side to kick on after a poor start to the campaign.

The Saints have started their 2011-12 Aviva Premiership season in unconvincing fashion taking just nine points from their first six games and are positioned fourth from bottom. However, after seeing the likes of Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden - who handed a boost to the Franklin's Gardens side penning a new contract this week - return from New Zealand, Lamb is sure the squad will achieve what is expected from them.

The 2010 Heineken Cup bridesmaids brought in a host of new faces over the summer and while their honeymoon period is over, Lamb believes familiarity within the squad is improving and as a result expects to see more matches go in the Saints' favour.

"While we have a young team - with this youthful squad comes a lot of experience," Lamb told ESPNscrum. "We have players who have won the Six Nations and taken part in a World Cup so while we might be young we are mentally strong.

"Phil Dowson is one of the 'older' lads in the squad and has a lot of experience with a big leadership role to play.

"We were disappointed with the start of the season and we weren't taking our chances. But we are starting to click and have recently put in two big performances against Exeter Chiefs and Saracens.

"There are new faces in the squad and that always takes time to gel. The World Cup didn't help but where before we were making wrong decisions through unfamiliarity, we are now gelling and kicking on as a team."

Lamb made the summer switch from London Irish to Franklin's Gardens and faces competition for a place in the side from rugby league convert Stephen Myler. However, Lamb is adamant that having a rival in the side is essential for him to sustain a high-level of performance and admits that Paul Grayson's presence at the Saints was a key part of his decision to leave the Exiles.

"The professionalism of the club was a big draw along with Paul Grayson being here - he's very similar to Mike Catt in terms of experience and what he's done in the game," Lamb said. "I worked with Dorian West at England youth level and when I came down here the feeling was fantastic. It was great to slot into a top four team straight away and playing in the Heineken Cup was a big plus as well.

"In regards to competition for places - it is something I relish. At London Irish Dan Bowden was playing at 12 but also competing with me at fly-half and similar to Stephen [Myler] it keeps you on your toes. It makes you want to train harder and in any squad nowadays you need a bigger team with the Heineken Cup and the Anglo-Welsh competition."

With question marks surrounding the future of Martin Johnson as England boss, Lamb has worked with three coaches linked with the post in the guise of Toby Booth at London Irish, Dean Ryan at Gloucester and current boss Jim Mallinder. And Lamb has been hugely impressed with Mallinder's style of management during his relatively short Saints career.

"Every coach is different. He's [Jim Mallinder] very open with what he says and he gives the players lots of responsibility with analysis and is always open with discussions. I think his general management and man-management is very good. He's very similar to Toby Booth and it's brilliant having him at the Saints."

Gatorade, official performance partner of the AVIVA Premiership and the NFL, brought together Ryan Lamb and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players to compare training regimes ahead of the Pepsi Max International Series at Wembley.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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