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Vesty: We’ve got a Saints squad we can believe in

Northampton Saints’ coaching department have had to think outside the box to tackle a hectic end to the Gallagher Premiership season – and Sam Vesty insists the faith they have in the depth of their squad has made all the difference.

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd indicated this week that the men in Black, Green and Gold have split into two separate teams, to allow them to make a large number of changes to the matchday 23s in-between fixtures.

Saints faced the prospect of eight league matches in the space of just five weeks before rugby’s resumption, but this approach allows Boyd to keep his players fresh, provide opportunities to a few youngsters, and – hopefully – continue to collect plenty of points.

While one set of players was preparing to square up to London Irish at Twickenham Stoop last Saturday, another was steeling themselves for tomorrow’s game against Bath.

It makes for a fascinating time around Franklin’s Gardens, and according to attack coach Vesty, both sets of players are desperate to keep the Club in the hunt for a top-four finish in the Premiership and to progress in the Champions Cup.

“It’s pretty much two different teams and replacements going through both teams,” said Vesty.

“It’s complicated for the coaches, because you’re delivering to a team that are playing London Irish on one day, and also on that day you’re delivering another meeting to a team that are 15 completely different individuals about how they’re going to prep for the Bath game and what it’s going to look like.

“Sometimes they train together against each other, and sometimes they’re separate.

“Our Academy boys are putting in a sterling effort in training, acting as the opposition and doing a lot of training against sometimes both of those two teams.

“We’re lucky enough to have a good enough squad to do that, and we’ve got faith in a large enough number of people to do that.

“Boydy has always backed people, and when you back people they usually give it back in spades.”

Sam Vesty, Attack Coach

“We’re all in it for the same reason and we’re fortunate we’ve got a squad we can believe in.

“We’ve got a squad in which we feel we can field two strong teams and that then gives everyone in the Club a fillip because you know you’ve got a part to play.

“Often when 15 guys are running out on a Saturday and you’ve got a group who are not involved, not on the bench and not necessarily Academy guys, they can feel a little bit forgotten.

“But in the way we’re running it, everyone’s got a role and it’s going to have an impact on how we finish this season.”

Saints’ approach paid off last Saturday as they found a winning formula to see off London Irish 27-3.

The bonus-point success was crucial to keep them in the slipstream of the top four ahead of Wednesday night’s home game against the team directly above them in the table, Bath.

Northampton’s free-flowing attack seemed to click at the Stoop, particularly after half-time, but Bath typically adopt a more direct approach – based around the power of their pack.

And with the West Country outfit winning both matches since the restart, Vesty knows Saints will have their work cut out to reverse their defeat at The Rec earlier this season.

He added: “Bath are a difficult team to play against.

“Bath compete at everything and really try to make every breakdown difficult and hard to get some fluency into the game.”

Sam Vesty, Attack Coach

“They bring their own way of playing with a strong set piece that they thrive off and they use it very well.

“They’ve also got some very dangerous individuals who can hurt you in the blink of an eye.

“But 95% of what we do is based around what we’re good at and how we can impose ourselves on a team, and that doesn’t change.”