Press Notes | Northampton Saints | Gallagher Premiership | R22

9 June 2021

Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper spoke to media ahead of the final match of the season.

It has been a long time coming but fans will be present for the game against Northampton Saints at the Rec!


ON THE GLOUCESTER CANCELLATION

I think it was dealt with professionally and consistently with what we’ve seen all year. “On hearing the news about the situation at Gloucester it highlights that Covid is still prevalent in the population and we actually tightened up things a fair bit. We have been doing the lateral flow testing programme but we but in some extra PCR testing just to make sure we are clear and ready to go this week. We have been through all that and we are good to go.

It was a completely voluntary step but as soon as we heard the Gloucester game was in doubt and there were a number of cases in the game again, for me the number one objective was to have everyone fit and available for the Northampton game so how could we do that? Go back to the testing we have used as a gold standard and double up on our PCR tests.


ON SECURING HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP RUGBY

The big thing is it is in our hands. Evidently, we are not in the position we want to be in but the position we are in now is we can control whether we play in the Champions Cup next year and that is a massive motivator for everyone involved. 

It is important to us to be in the Champions Cup, both internally and externally, our supporters want to be in the top European competition and as a group we want to be playing in it and challenge ourselves in it, and the players want to be playing in it. 

It is massive and it is something we have spoken about this week and we are looking forward to the challenge.

European qualification is the outcome we are looking for but the motivation behind this weekend is different for everyone, some players are not going to be here next year, they buy into it and want us to qualify for Europe and say goodbye on the best possible note. 

They want to put in a performance and walk away proud of a level of performance that takes us into the Champions Cup and they can look back on with fond memories.


ON NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

I think they looked quite impressive (v Exeter Chiefs). They really threw everything at Exeter; their breakdown work was outstanding and when they generate quick ball, I think Dan Biggar showed why he has got his call-up to the Lions. Consistently, he has very good decision making around kick, run, pass and keeps the ball in front of Northampton, whether that’s them running on to the ball getting momentum or putting the ball in the corner. They’re a top side, they’re a dangerous team and I’m sure they’ll be coming down giving their all.


ON THE RETURN OF SUPPORTERS

It’s absolutely massive. From the moment you walk into the Rec, there is a different feeling when the supporters are there. It adds a completely different feel. Credit to our players, and the away players, because it’s been very, very different coaching and working in front of no supporters.

It can’t come quickly enough. We’ll have 3,000-odd this weekend but let’s hope we can ramp it up quickly because they are very much needed for all sorts of reasons – the main one being the support and energy they give our stadium at the weekend.

It’s really nice for the supporters to be able to say goodbye to the boys that are leaving and that’ll be very special too.


 

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