Kahn Fotuali’i’s Saints farewell interview

Kahn Fotuali'i came off the bench to make his final Saints appearance last weekend (pictures: Sharon Lucey and Linda Dawson)

Kahn Fotuali'i came off the bench to make his final Saints appearance last weekend (pictures: Sharon Lucey and Linda Dawson)

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“That’s a tough question,” says a smiling Kahn Fotuali’i.

The departing star was asked what he will miss most about Saints now that his time at the club has come to an end.

And his reply?

“I guess it’s different things that you’ll miss,” said Fotuali’i, struggling to pin one thing down after such a successful three-year stay at Franklin’s Gardens.

“Even though when you go to new clubs you make new friendships and new camaraderies, it’s that that I’ll probably miss the most amongst this Saints group.

“But rugby is a good game of making new friends, meeting new people and as players you’ve got to deal with that camaraderie, so I’m looking forward to that.

“It’s another move, another challenge and hopefully we do that and hopefully I’ll have some success in the next couple of seasons.”

Fotuali’i, who has become a popular figure at Saints since joining from Ospreys in the summer of 2013, is off to Bath on a two-year deal.

And after playing his final game in Northampton colours as a replacement in last Saturday’s win at Gloucester, he said: “I’ve got a nice challenge in front of me and it’s pretty exciting.

“I’m really looking forward to it and my family a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.”

When Fotuali’i moved to Saints three years ago, the club was desperate for an injection of poise, precision and composure to take it to the next level.

They had made four successive Aviva Premiership play-offs semi-finals, but lost in each of them and they were also beaten in the Heineken Cup final, in 2011.

But the arrival of Fotuali’i, George North and Alex Corbisiero prior to the 2013/14 campaign proved to be just what the doctor ordered.

And the new stars proceeded to fit in well as they propelled Saints to a first Premiership title and an Amlin Challenge Cup crown in their first season.

Reflecting on that trophy-laden time, Fotuali’i said: “We’ve achieved that success as a group and that’s credit to the players, the coaching staff and what we all bought into when I joined.

“I bought into what the coaches wanted, how the players play and I’ve just been enjoying my time.

“Back in 2014, the players had learned from previous times and the best thing about rugby is that you’re always learning, week in, week out.

“No matter how many times you play rugby or how many seasons or years, it’s good to learn from your previous games.

“I’m just glad I was part of it and I’m very honoured to have been part of a great club.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here.”

Fotuali’i’s craft will undoubtedly be missed at Saints as the 33-year-old has lit up a number of the 80 games he had played for the club.

He was part of a rotation policy with Lee Dickson, with each playing two successive games before the other took over.

And Fotuali’i showed his worth once again last weekend as he came on and used his experience to help Saints shut out Gloucester during the second half at Kingsholm.

His only disappointment is that he couldn’t finish his final campaign at Northampton with another Premiership winners medal.

“It’s been pretty frustrating this season,” Fotuali’i said.

“But Premiership rugby is tough and if you’re not there on the day, you’re not there at the end of the season to compete for that final spot.”

Smiling Samoan Fotuali’i dons another grin when it is mentioned that he will be battling it out with Saints next season.

And he is just glad that his new team won’t be facing them in the Challenge Cup, with Jim Mallinder’s men having done what Bath failed to do: Secure a Champions Cup spot.

“It’s pretty tough for me to say because obviously this season hasn’t been successful, but it’s just nice to keep the Saints in the Champions Cup, where they want to be,” Fotuali’i said.

“It’s a great club with great players and they deserve to be amongst the championship challenge.

“I’ve learned a lot, hopefully they’ve taken a bit of what I’ve added and I’ve enjoyed my time here.”

And everyone at Saints has certainly enjoyed watching him.