Saints boss Boyd expects international hopefuls to kick on this season
Saints boss Chris Boyd expects his players on the fringes of international selection to step up a level this season.
Boyd wants to see the likes of Lewis Ludlam, George Furbank and Rory Hutchinson cement their place among the elite.
Plenty of Saints' players have sampled international action without being able to become regular starters for their country.
But with the black, green and gold desperate to chase major honours, they will expect the likes of Ludlam and Furbank to shine, and consequently force their way into the England starting 15.
“If you look at the Saints team of perhaps 2014 to 2018, that had been a very stable team, a very experienced team, a very mature team and they had stuck with that team and been reasonably successful,” Boyd said.
“It (the success) drained off a little but the youngsters really hadn’t been given a lot of opportunities so what struck me when I arrived was that there were some really capable rugby players here if we gave them a chance to express themselves because we thought that we would get some fruit off the tree. That has proven to be.
“The trick now is we have had a number of guys out of our Academy that have all had little snippets of opportunities to go into the England environment but in the back-end, none of those has really gone on to consolidate themselves, so there is a group of youngsters here and it is probably time they started putting in some really consistent performances to see if they can really go to the next level.
“Most of it has led to England. We had the odd guy that went to Scotland and the odd international that was already an international but those guys have gone and had a little taste and haven’t really kicked on.
"That (Test rugby) is another environment where someone else makes the decisions and we just hope that we can help some of those guys go a little bit further.”