You are never going to be able to find a like-for-like deal when you a lose a man of Samu Manoa’s particular skillset.
And that is why this year’s Northampton Saints are planning on using all of their squad in their bid for Aviva Premiership Rugby glory, according to lock Christian Day.
The departure of Manoa and Salesi Ma’afu to Toulon created a gaping hole in the Saints pack but they have recruited very shrewdly indeed.
The likes of Kieran Brookes, Michael Paterson and Jamie Gibson have all come in to beef up the forwards after their play-off disappointment last season.
Saints topped the regular season table but were stung by Saracens on their own patch in the semi-finals and started this new season with a last-gasp loss to Worcester Warriors.
And after a summer of new faces arriving at Franklin’s Gardens, Day admits it was always going to take time for the squad to gel.
“We are very positive, it’s the first game of the season and we didn’t perform but we got a losing bonus point which I suppose is a small silver lining," he said.
“We know we need to perform better if we want to get back to last season where we were good at picking up the points even when we were not at our best.
“We are playing a bit of catch up which is not ideal, we have internationals away and they are always going to be some of your more established and experienced players.
“But they are back in the mix now and we are ready to go.
“We have certainly established a strength in depth across every position, we have two or three guys who can step up and do the job without a drop in performance.
“There are about 20 back-to-back games coming up between now and April when I think we get our first week off. The coaches are aware of that and squad rotation is going to be crucial.
“Samu is a pretty special athlete with his carrying and his aerial ability but now we know that we cannot rely on one or two people to play week in week out like he did. It is a squad game.”
The highest profile recruit for Saints is yet to arrive however, Springbok Victor Matfield is still on patrol at the World Cup.
But the lock will soon be in the midlands and Day knows he will have his work cut out for him to keep a spot in the second row with a World Cup winner around.
“Victor is obviously going to be direct competition for me but I will relish the challenge,” added the 32-year-old.
“And if I am going to pick up anything new and learn something at my age then it is probably going to be him considering his fantastic experience!
“There is certainly a hunger in this team, there has to be if you want to be a champion club. We were top of the table last season and deserved to be I think, but Sarries came here and put in a good performance.
“We cannot complain, but it certainly has given us a bit of extra hunger over the summer and coming into the season.”
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