Surgery all round for Saints players
NEWS: Northampton Saints has issued a statement regarding players who sustained injuries either towards the end of the 2015/16 season or in the June tours.
Courtney Lawes (ankle), Tom Wood (neck), Ethan Waller (toe) and Tom Stephenson (foot) have all undergone surgery during the off-season and are expected to be fit in time for the start of the Premiership campaign.
George North (hamstring) should also be available for selection ahead of the Saints' opening game against Bath, having undergone rehabilitation with the club's medical team after leaving Wales's tour of New Zealand.
However, two other first players are not expected to be back in black, green and gold in time for the opening matches of 2016/17.
Jamie Elliott has sustained a shoulder injury in pre-season training which has needed surgery, meaning that the winger will miss the opening few weeks.
Meanwhile, Rory Hutchinson's World Rugby Under-20 Championships campaign was cut short by a significant ankle injury sustained in Scotland's win over Australia, which also required surgery and a late start to the season.
Calum Clark continues with his rehabilitation from a complex shoulder injury.
The England flank is training with the squad and progressing well, but no immediate date has been set for a return to the field of play.
"Matt Lee and our medical team have been very busy this summer and to have so many players expected to be fit reflects the hard work that's been put in behind the scenes," said Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder.
"The players themselves have been positive and their attitude has been excellent."
Meanwhile, Saints has announced that six players have signed contracts with the club.
Newly-appointed club captain Wood leads the list, with freshly capped England internationals Teimana Harrison and Paul Hill also putting pen to paper. The other three are also forwards, flanks Jamie Gibson and Ben Nutley joined by prop Adam Parkins in committing themselves to black, green and gold.
Wood, who was at the head of the team when it ran out for both the 2014 Premiership and European Rugby Challenge Cup finals, has made 129 appearances for the Saints since arriving in the East Midlands in 2010. Wood was handed the captain's armband ahead of the 2016/17 season.
Harrison is at the start of his international career, winning his first England caps in the end of season test against Wales and on the unbeaten tour of Australia.
Hill is another to have made his full international debut in 2016, helping England to the Grand Slam as well as the Wallaby whitewash. A Junior World Champion, he is going into his second season at the club, having joined from Yorkshire Carnegie.
Gibson has earned plenty of praise for his work rate, quality and consistency since arriving at the Saints from Leicester a year ago.
After a season disrupted by injury Nutley burst back into the Saints first team at the end of 2015/16 with some powerful performances, not least in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter final away to Saracens. The Academy graduate has played 64 times for the first team.
Parkins has been learning his trade in the front row in the Championship and National Leagues in recent years, as well as regularly playing for the Wanderers.
"We're delighted that all six players have signed new contracts to stay at Franklin's Gardens," said Mallinder.
"We’ve seen them all develop massively in their time at the club and to have these deals agreed well before the start of the 2016/17 season means that we can plan with certainty for the future.