Luther Burrell to leave Saints: Tom Vickers' view

Luther Burrell became a key man at Saints
Luther Burrell became a key man at Saints

When Saints took their recruitment to the next level in the summer of 2013, the signings of players such as George North and Kahn Fotuali'i caught the eye.

But during the sensational campaign that followed, it was not just the so-called big names who shone.

Burrell helped Saints to beat Bath to win the Challenge Cup final in Cardiff in 2014

Burrell helped Saints to beat Bath to win the Challenge Cup final in Cardiff in 2014

No, other men, who were not afforded such fan fare, also stood up to be counted.

And Luther Burrell was certainly one of them.

An under-the-radar signing from Sale Sharks during the previous summer, Burrell's progression during his early years at Saints was stark.

So much so that in the space of just 12 months he had become a key feature of a team that went on to win an incredible Premiership and Challenge Cup double.

Burrell won 15 England caps but was unfortunate not to claim more

Burrell won 15 England caps but was unfortunate not to claim more

Burrell was the midfield wrecking ball that perfectly complemented Samoan star George Pisi.

And that formidable partnership was the fulcrum of a Saints side that swatted opposition outfits with superb regularity.

Burrell's signing was certainly not greeted with the excitement that the likes of George North and Kahn Fotuali'i were to enjoy a year later.

But he was no less important during one of the greatest eras at the Gardens.

George North and Burrell with the Premiership trophy

George North and Burrell with the Premiership trophy

He was eventually recognised by England, going on to win 15 caps for his country.

But his treatment by the national team, notably his omission from the 2015 World Cup squad, hit him hard.

In fact, he admitted it left him 'broken'.

Stuart Lancaster's strange decision to pick Sam Burgess ahead of him to this day remains tough to take.

And for someone who can really be considered a confidence player, that setback was huge for Burrell.

And as Saints struggled to live up to the standards they had set during perhaps the best year in the club's history, things started to slip a bit for Burrell.

He received some criticism from the club's fans as fortunes started to change.

But under Chris Boyd this season, he has looked much more like the Luther Burrell of old.

He is now well and truly over that World Cup heartache and he is bouncing back to his best, with his magic white scrum cap making him stand out more than ever.

Burrell's qualities may have been in doubt when Saints picked him up from an injury-ravaged spell at Sale.

But the relationship between the black, green and gold and the player turned out to be the perfect match.

They brought the best out of each other and when Burrell heads for the exit doors at the Gardens for the final time this summer, he will do so with his head held high.

He - and everyone who has watched him play for Saints - will know just what kind of part he has played in the club's success.

They will know he should have been handed more recognition for taking Saints back to the top.

And they will know that little more could have been asked from a man who has been a class act on and off the pitch.

Put simply, Burrell might not have been greeted with much acclaim at the Gardens, but he will certainly leave with plenty.