Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Saints a Hard Nut to Crack Still: Rob

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Saints a Hard Nut to Crack Still: Rob

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Leslie

NORTHAMPTON Saints have still got enough quality despite their England callups, says Newcastle Falcons skipper Rob Vickers ahead of Saturday's Premiership clash.

Falcons travel to Franklin Gardens hoping to get their flagging league campaign back on track following last week's heart-breaking defeat against Saracens.

Saints lie in second place in the Premiership, a point behind leaders London Irish having made light work of Wasps in an impressive 37-10 win.

However, a week before, they were nearly on the wrong end of a Heineken Cup upset as Edinburgh came within minutes of beating them, only for Jim Mallender's side to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Falcons fans will be hoping their favourites will be inspired by that, but further encouragement has come via the pen of England boss Martin Johnson.

The Twickenham supremo has called up Saints stars Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, with Tom Wood on standby should injuries enforce a call-off or two ahead of the New Zealand match a week on Saturday. However, Vickers states that the call-ups will have no bearing on their hosts' gameplan, and says his Falcons teammates are braced for a tough encounter. He said: "Sure the international call-ups will disrupt their plans but only slightly.

"Northampton have a good back-up plan for these things - in fact they could put out a two or three teams capable of winning games in Premiership.

"Also, it is just the English guys that they'll be missing. For example, Scotland don't start their Autumn internationals until a week after the All-Blacks game so the like of Euan Murray and Jo Ansbro could feature on Saturday.

"As for us, training has been very positive this week. We're aware we fell short against Saracens but there's been an upbeat feel at the club.

"That's because we've been focusing on what we did right against Saracens - and there were a lot of things. …

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