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Dowson: Being in ‘right mental space’ for Derby is key

Phil Dowson highlighted the need for Northampton Saints to be in the ‘right mental space’ as preparations continue for Saturday’s East Midlands derby with Leicester Tigers (kick-off: 3.05pm).

The men in Black, Green and Gold head to Mattioli Woods Welford Road with a spring in their step after securing a hat-trick of successive league victories to move into the Gallagher Premiership’s top four.

Reflecting on the mood in the camp ahead of the short journey up the M1 this weekend, Director of Rugby Dowson had some words of caution for his group.

“We need to keep our feet on the floor and understand the challenge that awaits us,” he said. “Leicester in a derby game at Welford Road is going to be full on, and we’ve got to make sure we don’t get too carried away.

“We’ve got to make sure we look after the fundamentals of our game and we understand where our game sits, and what we need to do to get it on the pitch.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

Dowson is a veteran with vast experience of this long-running local Derby and believes what is between the ears will play a key part in who emerges victorious.

“You’ve got to be aware of the intensity but it’s all about us and how we can play and how we can perform,” Dowson said.  “We’ve got to make sure we’re in the right mental space to play in games of that magnitude away from home.”

The win over Exeter Chiefs last time out saw Dowson rest Club Captain Lewis Ludlam, who had returned from World Cup duty a week previously against Bath, while Courtney Lawes, Alex Mitchell and Sam Matavesi all got their Saints seasons up and running during the 34-19 victory.

cinch Player of the Month for October, Tom Pearson, operated from the bench last time out and Dowson highlighted the need to shuffle his options during a prolonged period of match weeks running up to the 2024 Six Nations.

He said: “We need to rotate, we need to manage people, we need to make sure we’re in physically as robust a shape as we can be. We’re in a very fortunate position.

James Ramm drops out [to play Exeter] with illness and Ollie Sleightholme comes in, which is a very fortunate position to be in.”

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