Saints demand stars deliver
August 30, 2013
Wales and Lions star George North is arguably the biggest name lured to Franklin's Gardens this summer © Getty Images
Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has demanded that his big name recruits George North and Alex Corbisiero transfer their sparkling British & Irish Lions form onto the Premiership stage.
North and Corbisiero were among the star performers for the Lions when they claimed an historic series victory over Australia this summer. North was a constant attacking threat throughout the tour and notched an outstanding solo try in the first Test while Corbisiero's scrummaging prowess was also key in the 2-1 series defeat of the Wallabies.
Mallinder, like all Saints fans, looked on in excitement having secured the services of the duo earlier in the year in what was a significant coup and expects a similar level of performance on the domestic stage.
"We watched the Lions tour with excitement, seeing what George and Alex accomplished," Mallinder told PA Sport. "They're good signings on paper and the important thing for us is that they're good players for Northampton. That's the challenge we face.
"George had a really good tour, not just the odd top game. In every game he played he had a massive impact. We're hoping he can do that for us.
"Corbisiero is a bright bloke who loves to talk about the scrum. He's very enthusiastic about it. On top of that, he's also a very good player. That's the type of player we want. You can't just have scrummages now, they have to be able to do other things around the field. That's one of the advantages of Corbisiero."
Mallinder, who saw his side beaten 37-17 by Leicester in last season's Premiership final, also shrugged off the suggestion that the arrival of the likes of North, Corbisiero and Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i increases the pressure on the Saints to go one step further and claim the English crown.
"I don't personally feel the pressure is any greater now. The Northampton faithful are quite demanding, they know their rugby and they want success," he said. "The pressure and expectation is always there. We've made six finals in six years, so we're doing something right. But everyone at the club is motivated to go that one step further and win something major."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures