TOP BAR - Fixtures

Sleightholme looking to back up the breakthrough

Sleightholme looking to back up the breakthrough

Generation after generation, Northampton Saints continue to produce some of the best young players in the country.

In recent times we’ve seen the likes of Harry Mallinder and Lewis Ludlam become first-team regulars and in the past season players like James Grayson (21), Alex Mitchell (22) and Ollie Sleightholme (19) have made huge breakthroughs.

The good news just keeps on coming for a club who excelled in Chris Boyd’s first season in charge, reaching their first Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-final since 2015 and winning the Premiership Rugby Cup.

Sleightholme, son of Saints legend Jon, has risen through the ranks at the club and signed on with the Senior Academy at the start of last season, making three Gallagher Premiership Rugby appearances and scoring two tries.

“Last year it was unexpected for me to be put in to the first team so I was delighted with that,” said Sleightholme. “It came off the back of an injury which you obviously don’t want for a teammate but I was delighted to play.

“I got my opportunity and made that debut at home against Wasps, came on and it was an amazing feeling.

“Then I got two other chances after that at Sale away and Newcastle at home, quite a bit of rugby for my first year and I was really chuffed with it.

“Boydy and all the team under him have breathed new life into the club and it’s changed the whole dynamic of everything.

“We want to retain the Premiership Rugby Cup, get those first three games under our belt and then go from there.”

Sleightholme is approaching his third Premiership Rugby 7s competition, on the horizon in September as the annual curtain-raiser to Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

The teenager has plenty of experience in the format, having represented England Sevens during the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, claiming a silver medal.

Shortly afterwards he made his debut in the 2017 Premiership Rugby 7s, which catapulted him into a first senior appearance for the club in a pre-season at Nottingham.

Sleightholme continued: “It’s great for Northampton and the fans that we’ve got the Premiership Rugby 7s at Franklin’s Gardens again and it’s great for us as players too.

“We get to come out in front of our home fans, first game in the new kit, it’s really nice to have it at home.

“It’s so exhausting but it’s also one of the most fun things you could ever do.

“Your body is in pieces but you’re with your mates and you are out in front of your home crowd, playing against other great young players, it’s a good day.

“The sevens always gives boys confidence going into the main season and it’s always helpful, it gives you a platform to bounce up.”

See all 2019 Premiership Rugby 7s fixtures here:

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