Saints to lose their Kiwi lock

Northampton Saints today announced that Matt Lord will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Lord, a 31-year-old, 6’4″ second row forward, arrived midway through the 2002/03 season to cover the absence of the injured Johan Ackermann. 48 hours after arriving in the UK he was making his club and Premiership debut away at Leeds.

The former North Harbour player, who hails from Taumarunui in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, became a favourite with the Franklin’s Gardens faithful immediately and was on the short-list for the 2003/04 Player of the Season.

The following year he went one better, earning the prize itself with a heart-on-the-sleeve attitude and exemplary work ethic.

In his seven seasons at Franklin’s Gardens Lord has pulled on the black, green and gold 154 times – the third highest in the current squad behind Bruce Reihana and Tom Smith.

Tries haven’t been so forthcoming and his effort in the 2007/08 National League One trip to Doncaster was only the second in his Saints career.

His Saints career has included three Heineken Cup quarter finals, two Premiership play-off games, a Powergen Cup final and an EDF Energy National Trophy final.

He made six appearances in 2008/09 before an injury during the Guinness ‘A’ League trip to Bath brought about a premature end to his season.

“Northampton has been a home from home for me for many years and I am grateful to the Saints fans for the way they welcomed me and my family to the club and the town,” Lord said.

“I have really enjoyed my time at the Saints. It is a great club and I’ve experienced plenty of highs as well lows while I’ve been here. I was very happy to help the team get back to where it belongs, in the Guinness Premiership, last season and will take away loads of good memories.

“I want to thank the club and the fans and wish everyone at the Saints every success in the next few years.”

“Matt is one of the quietest but most hard-working members of the Saints squad,” said Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

“In my time at Franklin’s Gardens he has always put in every effort to increase his own standards and those of the squad as a whole. He has never let the team down and is a great example for other players to follow.

“Although his first team opportunities were limited this season he remained an important player, particularly in helping the younger players develop as part of the Wanderers teams in the Guinness ‘A’ League.

“Myself and everyone else at the Saints wishes Matt and his family all the best for the future.”

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