Ex-Irish U21 Browne signs for Northampton

Northampton Saints have stepped up preparations for next season by putting the finishing touches to their new-look coaching line-up and signing former Ireland Under-21 second-row giant Damien Browne.

Adrian Kennedy and Frank Ponissi have been drafted in to assist Alan Solomons, who will take over the Franklin’s Gardens coaching reins at the end of the current campaign.

Solomons is to replace New Zealand-bound head coach Wayne Smith, who has landed a new role with the All Blacks, and will be joined in the midlands by Kennedy – his existing right-hand man at Ulster.

Kennedy will become the club’s forwards coach while Sydney-born Ponissi, currently Montferrand’s defensive kingpin who has also worked in Australian rugby league, will become Saints’ skills coach.

Northampton operations director John Steele said: “Our current coaching team has taken the squad to a new level in terms of understanding and performance.

“However, with Wayne’s return to New Zealand, it is essential that we have a top-class coaching team to build upon what has been achieved.

“Everyone knows of Alan Solomons’ talent and this will be well complemented by an innovative Frank Ponissi and very experienced Adrian Kennedy.”

Solomons added: “Both men are fantastic blokes – highly principled and full of integrity.”

The club’s playing resources have also been bolstered with the capture of Browne, the promising lock forward from Connacht.

At 6ft 6in and 19st 5lbs, the 23-year-old becomes the biggest member of Northampton’s squad and will arrive for pre-season training over the summer.

“Damien has the physique and athleticism to compete in the Premiership where a powerful front five is so important,” said Steele.

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