Samu Manoa: Northampton Saints eight in French club talks

Samu Manoa
Samu Manoa scored a hat-trick of tries against Sale in October

Northampton Saints are preparing to be without number eight Samu Manoa next season, with the American in talks with a number of French clubs.

The 29-year-old has played 69 Premiership games for Saints since joining from San Francisco in 2011.

He was a key part of last season's Premiership winning side.

Speculation 'part of life' - Jim Mallinder

"It's part of life. I've known for a long time that our top players have been looked at," Saints boss Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton.

"We've got quality players here, we won the Premiership last season and it comes as no surprise that other clubs are interested in recruiting our best players.

"We're working hard on building our team next year, which involves keeping a number of players but also recruiting some players."

English Premiership clubs have to work under a salary cap, meaning unrestricted French sides can offer better wages.

Wing George Pisi and England hooker Dylan Hartley have also been linked with moves to the Top 14.external-link

Analysis: Graham McKechnie, BBC Radio Northampton sports editor
"Unlike an England international, there are no financial incentives to keep Manoa in the Premiership."And at 29 years old, a lucrative French contract is understandably appealing."Given his importance to Saints for the last two seasons, it may sound strange to say they can live without him, but the emergence of Sam Dickinson and Jon Fisher at eight indicates that Manoa, like any other player, is ultimately replaceable."He'll be missed, but should go with everyone at Franklin's Gardens' blessings."

Mallinder did not comment directly on their futures, but admitted his best players will attract the attention of French clubs.

"No doubt we will lose one or two players. French sides have got massive money, we can't compete and we have to stick to our salary cap," he said.

"Is the grass always greener? You'd have to ask them. Certainly you'll get more money, but whether it's the best choice for their lifestyle or rugby, who knows?"

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