Possibly the best bit of news all week for Saints fans has been the return to action on Monday night of Harry Mallinder.
It is over a year since a knee injury put the fullback out of contention but he played the first half of Wandies 17-34 defeat at home to Gloucester as part of a carefully planned return to action.
Scrum Coach Matt Ferguson said: “It was really good – biggest man on the pitch at full back. I said to the team: if we work as hard on the game as Harry has working to get back then the game will take care of itself.
“I’ve been unbelievably impressed. He is always in the gym, he has done everything he has had to do. The crowd appreciated it when he took that first high ball and took off at pace. The size of his arms and legs at the moment I am glad he is running away from me not towards me.
“He came off and was grinning from ear to ear. He knew what his return was and he got some good contact and some good time on the ball and what we’ll do, next couple of games get him some match time and match fitness.”
With George Furbank going through head injury protocols and Saints embracing a more expansive game, the chance to see what Mallinder adds to the mix is an exciting prospect for fans who have just found out what might happen if the men in Black and Gold had to play the Irish national side.
Leinster beat Saints 50-21 at the Aviva Stadium. Several familiar names were missing from the visitors teamsheet but one that was familiar was Tupai – not the sometime Saints forward Paul Tupai but his son Conor who came on at scrum-half.
It was a tough game to come into but Conor performed well against players who only a year ago were pushing for the number one spot in the world at international level.
Dave Ikin’s pictures from Wandies v Glos
“It was a tough game and there are some learnings from it. All of our work-ons we are going to take into the Premiership. We are parking Leinster and we are going to move on to Sale,” said Conor.
The Sale game offers the mouthwatering prospect of Faf DeClerk v Cobus Reinach but there is quality all the way through the Mancunian side.
Fergs said: “Massively exciting to get to the Premiership, away fixture, top of the league against a really combative Sale team. Maybe they have underachieved the way they have started the season but when they get things right they certainly have that bit of physicality we have witnessed in the last two weeks.
“I don’t think it is just a tough place for Saints, I think it is a bit of a tough place for everybody. It’s about how we turn up and what we do when we get there. We are more concerned we cover off the threats they are going to bring but importantly we are accurate when the opportunities come along.”