Jim Mallinder has revealed his reasons for taking Tom Wood off against Leinster at Franklin’s Gardens last Friday.
Some Saints supporters were surprised to see their skipper sacrificed when Dylan Hartley was red carded in the 37-10 Champions Cup defeat.
Mallinder needed to bring hooker Mike Haywood back into the front row after Hartley had been dismissed in the 58th minute, just six minutes after coming on.
And Wood was the man who paid the price, despite having been one of Saints’ stand-out players in a poor team performance.
But Mallinder said: “The reason was that Jamie Gibson had been around for the past four or five weeks, helping to run the lineout, and he was the lineout leader on that evening.
“Tom Wood had just come back from England so he was fitting back into the way we were doing things.
“We brought two fresh faces off the bench in Api (Ratuniyarawa) and Teimana Harrison, they’d just come on, and Tom Wood had been away the previous day and not done captain’s run with some food poisoning.
“So therefore, we thought that even though he’d done very well, to make the lineout function we had to go down to seven men and we needed to keep Courtney (Lawes) on because he was having a big impact in the lineout and around the field, and we thought it was the best option.”