Northampton coach Paul Grayson happy with competition for places

Paul Grayson

Northampton coach Paul Grayson insists "most positions are up for grabs" ahead of the new Premiership season.

The club have revamped their squad over the past few months and are looking to improve on last season's fourth place.

"A lot of guys want to put their hand up for selection," Grayson told BBC Radio Northampton.

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Leinster were good test - Grayson

"We decided we were going to go hard from the beginning (of pre-season). All the players bought into that and worked their socks off."

Grayson's side, which ran in seven tries in a 43-0 warm-up win over Leinster on Saturday, have games against Moseley and Edinburgh to come this week before they kick-off the new season at Gloucester on 1 September.

Competition for places is likely to be especially keen among the backs with New Zealander James Wilson, Dominic Waldouck, Luther Burrell and Ken Pisi among the new faces at Franklin's Gardens, although there is no Chris Ashton this season following his switch to Saracens.

The Northampton coach believes Saints were "a couple of per cent" off last season which he attributes, in part, to having several members of the squad away at the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations.

"We've still got one or two absentees who won't be fit immediately but it's nice to have the (England) guys around.

"They were strangers for a lot of last year and it's tough for them - a World Cup year is always difficult and we did well to get close to getting to a (Premiership) final.

"They're all here, it's a new year, everybody re-focuses and re-sets their goals, and it's nice for the fans just to see all those lads because they didn't see much of them last year," he said.