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    23 May 2023

    Northampton Saints lose Lukhan Salakaia-Loto as he departs for Australia

    Australian Lock Forward Departing Northants – Family Reasons Cited as Main Motivation Behind Decision to Return Home

    In a surprise move that has shocked the rugby world, Northampton Saints have confirmed that their Australian lock forward, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, will be leaving the club and returning home due to personal circumstances.

    The 26-year-old international joined the Premiership side from Super Rugby’s Queensland Reds last season and went on to make 24 appearances for his team in what was an otherwise successful campaign.

    Salakaia-Loto played an important role in helping Northampton finish fourth in the Premiership table before coming off the bench during their semi-final defeat against Saracens earlier this month.

    Northampton boss Phil Dowson expressed regret at losing such a talented player but acknowledged that family comes first: “We understand Lukhan’s decision; it is never easy being far away from your loved ones for extended periods of time.”

    “Leaving Saints with a heavy heart” , said Salakaia-Loto who expressed appreciation for his teammates and fans whom he described as “fantastic”: “I’ll always cherish my time here.”

    The Australian lock forward also took some time to look ahead when speaking about his future prospects: “The club has everything it needs to challenge for major honours over the next several seasons,” he said. “However,” he added with gravity, “there are some things more important than rugby, and family comes first. We’ve been far away from home for a long time, and it is time to go back.”

    What Next for Northampton Saints?

    The announcement of Salakaia-Loto’s departure will come as a blow to Northampton Saints who had hoped to build on their impressive fourth-place finish in the Premiership last season.

    However, the club has already started looking at possible replacements with a move for Alex Coles from Sale Sharks being touted around by insiders.

    “We’re disappointed that Lukhan won’t be returning next season,” said Dowson.

    “But whoever we bring in will have big shoes to fill – he was an integral part of our team.”

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