Aussie lessons can help Tom prosper
HOME-GROWN wing ace Tom Collins is a man on a mission to prove why Northampton should bank on his try-scoring talent to turn around their flagging fortunes.
Since a breakthrough 2013-14 campaign when he starred in Europe and helped Saints reach the Premiership final, a combination of injuries and competition from George North, Ken Pisi and Ben Foden has prevented Collins from fulfilling his potential.
However, a summer in Sydney with Australian Shute Shield outfit Randwick has provided a timely boost and with Saints showing faith by handing him the No.11 jersey, the 23year-old flyer wants to repay that confidence by firing his side into the top four.
Collins, below, told The Rugby Paper: “It’s been a frustrating two or three years. I came to Saints fresh out of school and was only in my second year when I broke into the first team and did well, but then I had a few injuries and struggled to build on that good start.
“I had people ahead of me like George North and Ben Foden but as frustrating as the last two years have been, it’s also been a massive learning curve; I feel I’ve matured and come out of the other end a much better player for everything I’ve been through.
“I didn’t play a lot for Saints last season but I’ve learnt a lot from George and Ben and going away to Australia this summer was just what I needed.
“Playing for Randwick helped me get my form back, which gave me a lot of confidence for the new season.”
Of his experience Down Under, Collins added: “I’m not going to lie, I hadn’t really heard of Randwick and didn’t know what to expect, but their director of rugby, Nick Ryan, took me under his wing and it turned into a fantastic experience.
“I did a lot of one-on-one work with Nick on attack and defence. The average age of the squad was only about 21 so it was good to go as a bit of an experienced head and be a leader for them.”
Having featured in just 13 Premiership games over the last three seasons, Collins might have been tempted to quit Saints.
However, he insists: “I’ve never thought about leaving Saints. It’s my home club, it’s where I grew up watching rugby and my family and friends live nearby, so playing for Northampton and being successful is something I desperately want to do.”
With a torrid opening day defeat against Saracens piling pressure on rugby director Jim Mallinder, Saints responded with a huge win against Leicester.
Collins added: “Against Saracens we were way below the standards we set ourselves.But we showed what we were about against Leicester and can go on and have a great season.”