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Sam Graham loving run in the Northampton Saints team

Northampton Saints back-rower Sam Graham is loving his run in the starting team, but knows he must continue his good form to keep his place. 

The forward joined the Saints last season, and has made 44 appearances in the Black, Green and Gold. This campaign he has become a regular in the starting team, making 19 starts from 24 games so far.

Speaking to Rugby Nause News about his breakthrough year, Graham said he’s loving it.

“I’ve actually loved it. There’s nothing better than playing week in week out for a bit of continuity and confidence. I think it’s probably something that I’ll look back on at the end of the season and be very proud of. I’ve done a lot of very, very special things this year, but it’s quite difficult when you’re week to week and just into the next one.”

He also credited the work of the coaches to help him improve: “I think as a team we’ve had to work very heavily on our defence and that’s something in my game that I really love. Ideally I’d like to get my hands on the ball a bit more than what I have been certainly the last couple of weeks but it’s constant small improvements and working with the coaches here that I think have really driven my game on.

Competition for back-row spots is incredibly competitive at Northampton. The likes of Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Tom Pearson, Juarno Augustus, and Henry Pollock all fight to feature in the team; and Graham said this is a huge driver within the squad.

“We’re also so competitive. You have to keep moving forward, otherwise someone’s there and just as keen as you are to take the shirt.”

Sam Graham on influence of Lee Radford on his game

Northampton Saints defence coach Lee Radford-Credit: IMAGO

Northampton’s defence has come on massively this season, which can be credited to the introduction of new defence coach Lee Radford.

The former Hull FC and Castleford Tigers head coach joined the coaching staff at Franklin’s Gardens this season, and has helped transform their defensive system to a more simplified system.

Commenting on these changes, Graham said: “I think the best thing about it being fairly simple is that it’s exactly that. It’s not changing week on week, we’re not necessarily making massive changes to try and compensate for what other teams are going to bring. We know that if we bring what we’re trying to bring to the table, then teams are going to struggle against us.

He added: “I think the best thing is this season we’ve actually brought it week on week, which hasn’t happened for a Saints side a while. That’s pretty massive.”

Last season, Northampton had the second worst defensive record in the Premiership, but this year things have changed. They now concede far less tries, and also rank top of the Premiership for tackles a game and most tackles this season.