Tom Wood against Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership in January

Northampton Saints today announced that Tom Wood has signed a new contract with the club. Wood has had a sensational first season at Franklin’s Gardens. Being named man of the match for his debut performance in the black, green and gold against Leicester last September proved to be a springboard for his career, and by the end of the 2010/11 regular season he was not just a Six Nations winner with England but on the shortlist for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season as well.

The 24-year-old flanker, who also won the 2010 Churchill Cup with England Saxons, has so far played 22 times for the Saints.
Although he had a season left on his current contract Wood had no hesitation in signing a new two-year deal that takes his commitment to Northampton until the end of the 2013/14 season.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at the Saints,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone much better really. Working with the players and coaches has been excellent and hopefully this will continue over the next few years.

“I knew I had a challenge to establish myself as a Saints player, especially with the quality players that we have in the back row, and everything else has been a bonus. I certainly had no hesitation in signing a new contract, and have no intention of going anywhere else.

“The club and town have more than lived up to my expectations. I knew I wanted to work with Jim, Dorian and Paul, and they have all spent a lot of time helping me with my game. And the fans have been brilliant, stopping me in the street to wish me good luck from day one. Hopefully we can finish the job this season and then build on that to bring more success to the club in the next few years.”

The news of Wood’s new deal comes just one day after the Saints announced a similar contract with Lee Dickson. Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said then that it was important that the squad at Franklin’s Gardens was being kept together to grow as a team over the next few years, a point he reiterated today.

“When you look around the Premiership and in Europe it quickly becomes clear that the clubs that are successful over long periods – such as the likes of Leicester, Toulouse, Munster and Leinster – are those whose squads are maintained over successive seasons,” he said.

“This is what we are trying to do here at Franklin’s Gardens in order to compete at the top end of the Premiership and later stages of the Heineken Cup year in, year out.

“This is why Tom’s new contract is such a boost for the club. When he arrived last summer we knew that we were bringing in a good player, and his commitment and dedication on and off the field have helped him realise some of his potential. But he is still young and has plenty to learn, and all of the coaches are delighted that he will be developing here at the Saints.”