Saints sign Tigers’ Argentine front rower

Northampton Saints have announced that they have signed Santiago Bonorino who will join the club for the 2009/10 season.


Bonorino, who has signed from Leicester Tigers on a one-year contract, has already experienced Franklin’s Gardens on a matchday, when he played for Argentina against the Saints in February 2007.


The 34-year-old tight-head prop brings international experience to the Saints squad, having won 15 caps for the Pumas, the last of which came against future club-mate Euan Murray in last summer’s series against Scotland. Bonorino also has a bronze medal from the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where he played against France and Georgia.


Bonorino has been at Leicester for the past year. Prior to his move to England he played for Italian outfit Capitolina, Castres and Beziers in France, and began his career with San Isidro in Argentina.


“I am happy to have signed for Northampton,” Bonorino said.

 

“It is an important club and a good club, and they have done really well this year. I have a big friend at the Saints, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, and he has spoken a lot of Northampton. I was also impressed by their stadium and staff structure.

 

“Last year they won all their games in National League One. This year they’ve taken another step, played well in the Premiership and are in the final of the European Challenge Cup. They have a young squad that will get better with more experience and I hope that Northampton will take another step forward next year.”

 

Bonorino, who lives in Market Harborough, may only have been in the East Midlands for a short period but he is already aware of the rivalry between the Saints and Tigers.


“I know that they are two big teams with a big competitive rivalry,” he said.

 

“It’s another challenge and if I have the chance to play Leicester I will try to win for Northampton, like all Argentines do when they play.

 

“It has been a good experience at Leicester but I want to show I can do well in English rugby and play more in the Premiership. But it will be a good challenge at Northampton, who have Euan Murray, a Lions prop in their squad.”


Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that Bonorino will be a big asset to the Saints squad next season.


“One of the areas where we have needed to recruit is in the front row,” he said.

 

“Although we have promising youngsters like Jon Vickers and Regardt Dreyer we also need players who have the know-how that comes from a long career, which is what we are losing with the retirements of Barry Stewart and Tom Smith.

 

“Santiago is the type of player we want. He is a quality player who has plenty of experience both at international level with Argentina and at club level across Europe. He has had limited opportunities at Leicester and is eager to show what he can do here at the Saints.

 

“I am confident Santiago will help our squad improve still further next season.”

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