Mallinder keen on forwards battle after key signings

Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder says he is keen for intense competition among his front-rowers after a busy day of contract activity.

Saints today revealed that Scottish international Tom Smith has signed a new deal, while Wales international Ben Broster has switched from Llanelli Scarlets.

That gives Mallinder plenty of options, with the likes of Barry Stewart and Euan Murray already at Franklin's Gardens.

"The front row is an area of the squad where you cannot have too much depth," said director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

"Ben and Tom both give us that. Tom's quality was apparent throughout last season. He had a fantastic campaign in the tight and the loose.

"He also has plenty of experience which is another important commodity in the Premiership.

"Ben is an under-rated player who has proved his worth at the highest level. He is good in the tight, mobile around the park and also has international experience at all age groups.

"You need top quality players in every position and in Ben we have another good tight-head prop."

Broster, 26, has won two Welsh caps is excited by his move to Franklin's Gardens.

"I'm looking to play some rugby and be part of a winning team," he said.

"You can feel the buzz around the place. The boys have obviously had a terrific season in division one. Certainly confidence is high and it should lead well into the new season.

"The Premiership is always going to be a battle. You've seen that this year, where it's been as close as it's ever been.

"It's going to be very tough to be competitive. The task is to get back into the swing of Premiership rugby and all that entails."

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