Nick Auterac has already amassed some interesting Saints memories during his career – and now he is ready to make more by finally donning a Northampton shirt.
The loosehead prop’s move to Saints from Harlequins has gone through even though the 2019/20 season has yet to finish, due to the disruption to the schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With new contracts beginning on July 1, Auterac has already made the switch to the East Midlands and will finish the campaign a Saints player at Franklin’s Gardens, despite beginning the term as a Harlequin.
The 27-year-old former England U20 international has sampled some stand-out Saints-related career moments, including watching from the sidelines on one of the most significant days in the Club’s history.
Auterac explained: “I’ve played quite a few times against Northampton and it was always a tough place to go.
“I remember that I was 24th man when I was at Sarries and Saints won the Premiership final back in 2014. That was a memorable game.
“I wasn’t in the matchday squad but I was down there and did warm up. I had come through the whole Academy system and it was my last match at Sarries before moving to Bath.
“I was upset for the boys who were playing but it was a good little taster to watch that. I also watched the game the week before when Saints won against Bath (in the Challenge Cup final) because I was going to Bath.
“Also, I made my first-team debut against Northampton in an Cup game in 2011. As a first-year prop I didn’t think they’d really want to put me on against the players that Saints had out there that day – Soane Tonga’uiha, Dylan Hartley, Brian Mujati and Paul Doran-Jones.
“But Deon Carstens got a bit tired towards the end of the game, so he came off and I got to have a 15-minute runaround.”
Auterac’s early enthusiasm for life at Saints is clear. He has been training at Franklin’s Gardens for three weeks now, with the men in Black, Green and Gold this week moving to Stage Two of the Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance.
And with Premiership matches still targeted for a return next month, the prop is eyeing up a role in a successful run-in for Saints.
Auterac said: “It’s been good in Northampton so far. Obviously it’s been different to going to a new club in any previous year, but I’ve enjoyed it.
“It’s been a long time coming and I just wanted to get back into the swing of rugby again.
“I’ve felt very welcomed coming here. There has been continual communication about coming here and from the coaches to [Head of Recruitment & Retention] Paul Shields, they’ve been looking forward to me coming, and I’ve been looking forward to it, too.
“I found out I’d be coming here a while ago. My agent mentioned Saints were looking at me and I was immediately excited.”Nick Auterac
“The Premiership is a tight league and you can jump between second and ninth quite quickly, but Saints have been in the top four all year – so when we heard players would go to their new clubs now, I was quite looking forward to that.
“I thought it would be quite cool to play less than half the season and potentially win the title, and imagine winning in Europe as well!”