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Proctor and Fish to depart Northampton Saints

Matt Proctor and James Fish will leave Northampton Saints at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, the Club can today confirm.

Kiwi centre Proctor has notched up 72 appearances in Black, Green and Gold since joining Northampton back in 2019, while Saints Academy product Fish has 77 to his name in six full seasons with the first team.

“Matty is an ultra-competitive player who has brought an edge to our back-line over the time he’s been with us,” said Saints’ Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson.

“Socially too he’s great in the environment as he looks out for the other lads, makes sure everyone is doing ok and feels included in what we’re doing. He’s always got time for other people. He’s been a mainstay in our group, and we wish him all the best for his future away from Saints.

“James is an Academy graduate and a top man. He’s another who has been great to have in our environment these last few years, as his enjoyment of playing is infectious.

“He’s a very skilful player which he doesn’t necessarily get credit for, and while he’s going to continue his playing career, in future he is someone I think will make a great coach as he’s got an excellent manner with people.

“He’s been here a long time and done some great things in a Saints shirt over the years, so again we wish him well for the next stage of his career.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

Proctor arrived in Northampton from the Hurricanes at the start of the 2019/20 season, making the switch to the Gallagher Premiership from the Wellington-based Super Rugby side.

The 30-year-old centre had made a half-century of appearances for the franchise, captaining Wellington Lions in the Mitre 10 Cup, and earning a cap for the All Blacks against Japan – marking his first Test with a try.

He made an instant impact in Black, Green and Gold, scoring twice in his league debut against Leicester Tigers, and went on to record his 50th appearance for Saints against Harlequins in April 2022.

Proctor helped Saints qualify for the Premiership semi-finals during the 2021/22 campaign, making 21 appearances and scoring six tries throughout the season, and added another 19 appearances and four tries in 2022/23 as Northampton made it into the top four for a second consecutive year.

“I’m really proud to have represented Northampton Saints these last four seasons,” said Proctor.

“When I first came over, I didn’t know what to expect, and it was obviously a challenging time to be halfway across the world from friends and family during the pandemic, but I have felt welcomed by the special rugby community here in Northampton ever since I first pulled on a Black, Green and Gold jersey.

“I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my time here, and while my injury will stop me from running out at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens one last time, I’ll always remember the feeling of playing here in Northampton with huge fondness.”

Fish rose through the Saints Academy system after picking up rugby at hometown club Derby, also representing England Under-18s on a tour of South Africa in 2014, before signing his first senior Club contract ahead of the 2019/20 season. 

During his time in the Academy, the hooker helped Northampton Wanderers lift both the 2017 and 2018 Premiership Rugby Shield trophies – defeating Gloucester United and then Exeter Braves in consecutive finals. 

Fish earned his Saints number (#1971) by debuting against Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2016, but it was during the 2018/19 campaign that really he made his breakthrough into the first team – taking his opportunity in an injury-struck Saints side.

He added 24 appearances and three tries to his tally that term, starting the Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Exeter Chiefs and coming off the bench to help Saints lift the Premiership Rugby Cup at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Fish made his 50th appearance for the Club towards the end of the 2019/20 season, and played another 20 times in 2021/22 while scoring tries against Wasps, London Irish and Worcester Warriors to take his overall Saints tally to ten.

Fish said: “I’ve had a great experience during my six seasons with Saints, and I feel very proud to have spent the majority of my career so far playing for Northampton.

“The time has come for me to move on, but I’m looking forward to a new challenge and I wish the rest of the squad and the coaches the very best for the future. For now, I’m focused on helping the team finish off the season as strongly as possible.”

All of the Club’s confirmed departing players will be recognised on the pitch after this Saturday’s game against Leicester Tigers, as part of the annual leavers’ ceremony after the final home match of the season. Supporters will be welcomed onto the pitch to toast this season and bid all leaving Saints a fond farewell.

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