Saints linked with France star

Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Reports in the French media are linking Saints with a sensational swoop for Toulouse star Louis Picamoles.

French radio station RMC Sport suggests Northampton, Saracens, Clermont Auvergne and Montpellier are all chasing the 29-year-old.

Picamoles is currently with France at the World Cup, where he was man of the match in the opening game, against Italy.

Toulouse are reportedly desperate to hold on to the powerhouse No.8 and will make it a priority to extend his deal, which runs until June 2016.

However, the reports suggest Picamoles will wait until after the World Cup to make his decision.

A move to Saints would appear unlikely as French clubs pack a far heavier financial punch.

Clermont and Montpellier are both likely to be able to outbid Saints, who strictly adhere to the salary cap.

Jim Mallinder’s men did appear to be in the market for a new No.8 after Samu Manoa headed to Toulon this summer.

But Mallinder insists he is happy with the options he has in that position, with both Jon Fisher and Sam Dickinson impressing during their time with the club.

The Saints director of rugby told the Chron: “We’ve got two outstanding No.8s.

“Sam Dickinson’s probably played a bit more than Jon, but we’ve seen some of the things Jon can do. He’s very, very talented.

“We’re very happy with those two competing for that No.8 position, but we do have other players who can play in that position as well and will be very comfortable in that role.”

However, Mallinder does remain open to the prospect of unearthing some ‘hidden gems’ at the World Cup.

He said: “We never say that (the squad is set for the season).

“We’ve got a squad that we’re very, very happy with and we’re very, very close to our salary cap, but things always change.

“People get injured, people sometimes look to move on and we look to bring people in.

“(Recruitment and development manager) Dusty Hare will be having a look during the World Cup to see if there’s any hidden gems out there, and recruitment never stops.”