Despite not being able to celebrate a momentous Saints milestone with a victory over Leinster, flanker Tom Wood was delighted to chalk up a double century of appearances in Black, Green and Gold.
The Northampton stalwart let out the side as skipper in Dublin on his 200th caps for the Club, but could not inspire his troops to a triumph over the Pro14 champions at the Aviva Stadium.
“It’s been a long time in the trenches taking grenades,” said Wood, currently in his [tenth] season at Franklin’s Gardens having arrived in 2010 from Worcester Warriors. “It’s not really about me, I don’t want to make it about me.
“I’m just incredibly proud to have been able to pull on the shirt that many times for this great Club, and I just hope to continue doing so for at least the next year or two.”
Saints lost out for the second time in as many weeks to the Irish side, leaving them second in Pool One of the Heineken Champions Cup and needing two more victories against Benetton Rugby and Lyon OU to give them a sniff of a place in the quarter-finals.
“I’m humbled to have been able to pull on the shirt that many times for this great Club.”Tom Wood
But against a Leinster line-up packed full of internationals with several senior heads absent in Dublin, Wood was adamant the performance – particularly from Northampton’s pack – should give supporters optimism ahead of several crucial Gallagher Premiership clashes over the Christmas period.
He added: “The boys wore the defeat to Leinster pretty hard, and rightly so because we’re professionals and we come out to give a good account of ourselves.
“It’s desperately disappointing because we expect more. But credit to Leinster because they are a class outfit and punished us for just about every error over the past two weeks.
“It seemed like every time we started to build some pressure and coughed the ball up or gave a penalty away, they were down the other end and they took points on every occasion.
“We did some good things at times, and we were right in the fight in the first half last week. In large areas of the game we thought we had parity, especially in the set piece because I don’t think they got real dominance there over the past couple of weeks.
“Scrum time we were at least on par if not dominant at times, and that’s with a lot of key personnel missing as well.
“If you add Courtney Lawes, Alex Moon, David Ribbans, the Franks brothers, Mikey Haywood, and Teimana Harrison, there was a lot of firepower we were lacking – so huge credit to the young lads who stepped up and did an unbelievable job to contain a very tough Leinster pack.”