Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder has backed Calum Clark for an England call-up after the flanker impressed in his side’s bonus-point win over Newcastle Falcons.
Clark crossed for one of five Saints tries at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night, Stephen Myler, George Pisi, a penalty score and Luther Burrell the other names on the scoresheet.
Newcastle Falcons scored four tries of their own on the night through Chris Harris, George McGuigan, Alex Tait and Richard Mayhew but Mallinder’s troops were not to be denied.
Clark was called up by England for the autumn internationals at the end of last year but did not get the chance to make his Red Rose debut over the four games.
But this year’s Six Nations presents a new opportunity and it could be Clark's time to shine according to his director of rugby.
“Calum has been immense for us over the last few weeks,” he said.
“His handling has particularly improved this year. We want our players to play for England and Calum has worked so hard on his game, I think Stuart will be having a serious look at him.”
Two of the four Newcastle tries came from driving mauls, a source of concern for Mallinder and his forwards coach Dorian West.
And Mallinder admitted his side will have to improve when they travel north to take on Sale Sharks next week.
“We thought when we got to thirty points it might be an easier win but we switched off and credit to Newcastle they got their driving maul going and we switched off a bit,” he added.
‘We have a tough game next week up against Sale and then two big European games before the England boys leave us. There is everything to play for.”
Meanwhile for Dean Richards there were still plenty of positives despite having to settle for a bonus point.
“We are a bit upset with ourselves in the first half and the way we gifted them the field position for their tries, at the same time the boys are positive about the way we play and we try and throw it around and have a bit of fun,” he said.
“We have some positives to take out of it, we scored four tries and they were lovely tries but at the same time we need tolook at ourselves and tighten up.’
“Everybody wants to have a go, Mark Wilson was outstanding, as was Tom Catterick. The youngsters want to have a go and challenge the opposition.
“We have got to carry on improving our game and tighten up on the small things and that will make a huge difference to the results.”
Northampton Saints: Foden; K.Pisi, G.Pisi (Stephenson, 70), Burrell, North; Myler (Wilson, 59), Dickson (Hodgson, 75); Waller (Corbisiero, 51), Haywood (Williams, 67), Ma'afu (Denman, 56); Dickinson, Day (Wood, 45); Clark (Nutley, 67), Dowson (capt), Manoa
Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Harris, Powell, An.Tuilagi (Clegg, 57), Barnes (Penny, 40); Catterick, Blair (Tipuna, 72); Fry (Vickers, 57), Lawson (McGuigan, 57), Brookes (Rogers, 57); Green (MacLeod, 78), Furno; Mayhew, Welch (capt), Wilson
Not used: Saull
Tries: Myler, G.Pisi, Clark, penalty, Burrell
Conversions: Myler 3
Penalties: Myler 2
Tries: Harris, McGuigan, Tait, Mayhew
Conversions: Catterick 4
Referee: Ian Tempest
Get 20 per cent off a limited number of tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015. Visit http://www.tickethour.co.uk/premierrugby/ to take advantage of this great offer.