Dowson admits Saints have to learn to cope without their ‘superstars’

Saints back row forward Phil Dowson says he and his team-mates can't rely on the likes of Samu Manoa playing every game
Saints back row forward Phil Dowson says he and his team-mates can't rely on the likes of Samu Manoa playing every game

Phil Dowson says Saints must stop relying on their ‘superstars’.

Samu Manoa, Courtney Lawes and skipper Dylan Hartley were among the absentees for last Saturday’s Aviva Premiership defeat at Sale Sharks.

Saints struggled as they were beaten 20-7 by Steve Diamond’s side, suffering a first defeat in eight matches.

And though Manoa and Lawes could be back in the side at Ospreys on Sunday, Dowson doesn’t want his team to have to rely on those men to deliver results.

“It’s great to have Samu back but if he then gets injured or Christian Day is not available to call the lineout, we have to make sure we can cope with that,” said the experienced flanker.

“We can’t rely on superstars.

“The weekend was a good test for us and we came up short. I don’t think that’s because we don’t have the squad to compete.

“On any other day, when we’re playing properly, that pack of forwards will do a decent job and compete with anyone in the league.

“Having players like Christian Day coming back to fitness and Samu back in, that’s a huge help because they are quality.”

Saints are desperate to bounce back this weekend, as they bid to take another step towards progressing from Champions Cup Pool 5.

And Dowson said there has been plenty of honesty, especially among the forwards, after last weekend’s loss at the AJ Bell Stadium.

“The debrief was pretty honest,” he said. “There was a lot of frustration and disappointment.

“I don’t think any of the players or coaches have got qualms about losing to a team that plays better than you but we made lots of fundamental errors, lots of unforced errors and lots of personal errors, which is uncharacteristic.

“We couldn’t get anything out of the game and it’s very disappointing, but sometimes these things happen.

“It’s probably a good reset for us to get our mindset right going into Europe to make sure we don’t take things lightly in future and we learn our lessons quickly.

“We’ve conceded two driving mauls and I don’t think Dorian (West) has been over the top but we’ve had to put right what’s been going wrong.

“Some of it is tactics, some of it is personnel but a lot of it is mindset and we got outdone by the Sale pack at the weekend.

“In rugby games, that costs you results.”