Aussie lessons can help Tom pros­per

The Rugby Paper - - News - NEALE HAR­VEY

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.”

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