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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 12:41 GMT
Thompson takes Saints captaincy
Northampton hooker Steve Thompson
England hooker Steve Thompson has been made Northampton's new captain after a secret ballot amongst the players.

Thompson will have Corne Krige, who stepped down from the leading role after the departure of coach Alan Solomons, as his vice-captain.

"I know Steve will lead the team in an exemplary manner," said acting Saints coach Budge Pountney.

Meanwhile, Saints forwards coach Adrian Kennedy has left the club as the fall-out from Solomons' exit continues.

Solomons was sacked on 22 November after eight consecutive league defeats, with former Saints captain Pountney taking over as acting coach.

Kennedy, who was brought to the club by Solomons, his coaching partner for eight years, has opted to follow him through the exit door.

"On reflection I felt that was the right course of action," Kennedy said.

"I wanted to make it clear that I have no issues with the management or any of the players.

"I want to wish the club well for the future and hope to bump into them in a rugby sense in my next career move."

Northampton stated they had "parted company" with Kennedy by "amicable agreement".

Saints are three points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership after a ninth straight league defeat at Newcastle on Sunday, Pountney's first game in charge.

But they won their opening two Heineken Cup pool matches, and face Toulouse at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday in the first of back-to-back games with the French giants.

Fly-half Paul Grayson, part of the temporary coach team, Krige and centre Mark Tucker have all returned to training.

Grayson and Krige missed the Newcastle defeat with back and rib injuries respectively, while Tucker is back after six weeks out with a broken arm.

Meanwhile, former Saints coach Wayne Smith will visit Franklin's Gardens next week to offer the club advice on how to get out of its current malaise.

Smith coached Northampton before becoming assistant coach of New Zealand.

"You can't comment from afar," Smith told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"It's sad to see your best mates struggle at the bottom."

He added that there were "deep-rooted issues that need to be sorted out" behind the scenes at the club.

Newcastle 27-16 Northampton
28 Nov 04 |  English
Northampton sack coach Solomons
22 Nov 04 |  English
Saint Boome facing long lay-off
19 Nov 04 |  English

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