Picamoles the answer to Saints' problems

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 14:33
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INTERVIEW: England flank Tom Wood believes the arrival of Louis Picamoles in Franklin Gardens has provided a major boost for the Premiership outfit.

This comes as Northampton Saints look to learn lessons from last year's Premiership campaign.

French No.8 Picamoles have completed a move from Toulouse to Saints.

After a disappointing fifth-place finish last year, Wood thinks the powerhouse back row can add a new dimension to Jim Mallinder's side.

That said, with the likes of George North, Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley and Teimana Harrison all pulling on the Saints shirt this season, they are not entirely reliant on the Frenchman's fresh impetus.  

Saints have had huge success in recent years, winning the Premiership in 2014 and finishing the regular season as league leaders the following year before losing out to eventual champions Saracens.

However, Wood is looking to the future for a model of success.

"Louis Picamoles has been great, he brings a huge amount of experience to the role, he is an established player, a very confident, natural ballplayer," Wood said.

"I have played against him a few times and I am certainly glad he is on our side now.

"But that said, we don't build our team around one man and we have a lot of talent within our ranks and a potential that we didn't really realise last year.

"We didn't get out of second-gear really and there's so much more to come from this team. I am hoping that with a really good preseason under our belts, a few guys back from injury and we'll be able to start with a bang and build from there.

"We don't want to look backwards at all, that is part of the problem. We had relied upon those successful years as a blueprint and actually the league changes, things move on and other teams come to the fore."

An early-season loss to Worcester Warriors at Sixways last year put Saints on the back foot.

Wood thinks his men must learn lessons from last year's tough losses if they are to move on and thrive in the Premiership.

And win against Todd Blackadder's Bath on Franklin's Gardens is top of his new season wish list.

"Our main focus has been on learning lessons from last year. There is as ever a big emphasis on fitness, both for me as captain and the team as a whole," Wood explained.

"We have been able to take a lot out of last season because we were disappointed with the outcome.

"Once you got off on the wrong foot it was difficult to take stock and take a step back and sort things out, there was no natural opportunity to reassess where you are at and change direction if necessary.

"Once we were playing catch-up we never really got it together.

"Chiefs, Saracens and Leicester have been very strong the last few years, have gone up a few gears and we need to find that extra level too - I certainly think we have it within us.

"A win on the first day, especially at Franklin's Gardens, is a must for us and gives us the springboard we need to build throughout the season."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 20 15 0 5 75
Saracens 20 14 0 6 67
Wasps 20 12 1 7 61
Newcastle Falcons 20 13 0 7 59
Leicester Tigers 20 2 0 8 57
Gloucester 20 11 1 8 56
Sale Sharks 20 10 0 10 54
Bath 20 9 0 11 46
Harlequins 20 7 0 13 36
Northampton Saints 20 7 0 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 6 0 14 31
London Irish 20 3 0 17 22