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Dowson: Absence made the heart grow fonder for Danny

Phil Dowson knows exactly what it’s like to spend some time away from Northampton Saints and then return with more wisdom in the locker.

And the Club’s forwards coach believes that scenario will be a big help for Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi during the prop’s second coming at Franklin’s Gardens.

Hobbs-Awoyemi came through the Academy ranks with the men in Black, Green and Gold, but initially left the Club in 2016 in search of more regular game time – playing 50 times for London Irish.

A Junior World Championship winner with England Under-20s, Hobbs-Awoyemi headed to the Exiles in a bid to turn from boy to man, and he has now returned four years later having done exactly that.

There are now high hopes that on his return, the 26-year-old can make the impression at Saints that he always hoped to, and Dowson (who left Saints for Worcester as a player before finally returning to Franklin’s Gardens as a coach) was asked about Hobbs-Awoyemi’s comeback.

He said: “What a legend – he’s a top man! I’d seen Danny around because he and his family were still in Northampton, so I asked him how he was doing at Irish.

“[Saints scrum coach] Matt Ferguson coached him at Irish as well and talked very highly of him, so it was brilliant to get him back.

“It’s good for him to have been away in terms of seeing a different environment and understanding different ways of doing things and professionalism.

“Getting out of Northampton and coming back – from my experience of Worcester – is really healthy.

“He’s hit the ground running since he’s been back, he’s got good skills, he’s working hard and he’s playing for his home Club so he’s pretty fired up.”

Phil Dowson

Dowson was a key member of the first team during Hobbs-Awoyemi’s first spell at Saints, and remembers plenty about the prop from that era.

“I do remember him really well, and I remember how talented he is,” Dowson added. “I’ve also got a cracking photo of him on a team social, which I haven’t yet brought out – but when the time’s right I might show it to the current group.

“He played a couple of years for England Under-20s and I spoke to Alan Dickens about him.

“When Alan was in his coaching role with the Academy, he rated him as one of the best he’d come across, so he’s obviously got that talent and we want to ally that with some opportunity with us.”