Things to look out for as Saints travel to Bedford Blues
On Friday night at 7.45pm, Saints will finally kick-off their pre-season campaign.
It will only span two matches, with Chris Boyd’s side travelling to Bedford Blues this week before hosting Ospreys next Friday.
But both games will be key as Saints look to sharpen up ahead of the Gallagher Premiership curtain-raiser against Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, September 18.
Friday’s trip to Goldington Road will bring back memories of years gone by, when Jim Mallinder’s Saintsmen would go to Bedford to get themselves in gear for a fresh campaign.
Memories of Courtney Lawes smashing fly-halves and Saints scoring tries for fun will come flooding back.
But what are the key things to look out for this Friday?
Here’s what we’re looking forward to seeing when Saints get their 2021/22 party started against the Blues...
Saints were able to play in front of fans on just a few occasions last season, and even then they were subjected to restrictions.
But with sport now returning to some form of normal, supporters of both Saints and Bedford will be able to take in this week’s game in an environment they are more accustomed to.
There will still be protocol, but it feels like the first chance for a long time that fans can really enjoy a game like they used to.
Fresh season, fresh look
Saints are set to don their new away strip this Friday, and perhaps never before have supporters been looking forward to seeing a kit more.
That is because the names of so many of them are etched on in, with Saints paying tribute to supporters who donated their season ticket money to the club during the pandemic.
The connection between the club and its supporters has rarely been stronger, and this kit is just one of the reasons for that.
Guess who’s back. Back again.
When Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi headed home to Saints from London Irish during the summer of 2020, hopes were high that he could stamp his mark on the first team.
But the loosehead prop suffered a serious Achilles injury in a game at Bristol Bears last September and hasn’t been able to play since.
However, he has returned to full training this summer and he will hope to get some valuable minutes under his belt against the Blues at Goldington Road this week.
A sizeable signing
Not all of Saints’ new recruits will be on show as Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani and South Africa wing Courtnall Skosan are still going through the process at Saints, but there will still be a sizeable figure to take a look at.
Juarno Augustus, nicknamed ‘Trokkie’ (the truck) by his former team-mates at the Stormers, is set to make his first appearance in Saints colours.
Big things are expected from the big No.8, and you wouldn’t fancy being a Bedford player trying to stop him on Friday night.
Familiar faces everywhere!
There will be so many familiar faces on show this Friday, because plenty of members of the Bedford squad have Saints links.
Not only are former Northampton players in the Blues ranks - the likes of Jordan Onojaife and Tui Uru to name but a couple - but there are also current Saintsmen, too.
Last week it was confirmed that a total of 10 Saints players would be dual-registered at Bedford this season as the partnership between the two clubs continues to flourish.
And that means there should be some tasty match-ups this week as up and coming Saints players look to prove a point against the more established men from Franklin’s Gardens.
Something to savour
Finally, just the return of rugby is something to savour.
Saints haven’t played since June 12, and we can’t wait to see them get started again!