Harry ready for next challenge in eventful season at Saints

Harry Mallinder has had an eventful season at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Harry Mallinder has had an eventful season at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

It's been quite a season so far for talented Saints youngster Harry Mallinder.

During the formative stages of the campaign, he strutted his stuff in the pivotal position of fly-half, starting Saints' opening six games at No.10.

The club claimed four impressive wins during that time, while suffering defeats to Saracens and Gloucester.

Mallinder then found himself of the bench for the Champions Cup clash with Saracens before being plunged into his preferred position of full-back a week later.

And what a place to play 15, with the 21-year-old under pressure to hold it together at the atmospheric Stade Marcel Michelin against French giants Clermont Auvergne.

There were glimpses of Mallinder's buccaneering style as he made a couple of big breaks for Saints, who failed to turn possession into points, losing 24-7.

Four days later, Mallinder was putting pen to paper on a new Northampton deal, keeping him at the club, at which he graduated from the Academy, until at least 2020.

"I'm delighted to be sticking around for a couple more years," Mallinder, son of Saints boss Jim, said.

"I didn't see myself going anywhere else. I've loved this club ever since the day we moved here when I was 11 years old.

"To be a part of the future the club definitely has is amazing for me.

"I intend to play full-back, it's my preferred position, and hopefully I'll get some games there over the next couple of years.

"For me, that's where I'm focusing on, but I'll play wherever I'm needed by the team, whether that be at fly-half or centre, too.

"I do like the open spaces at 15, I like being able to use my height to my advantage in the air, and my kicking game.

"I also like to be able to see the game from behind and help the team that way."

Even though the result didn't go Saints' way, there is no doubt last weekend's experience at Stade Marcel Michelin will help young players such as Mallinder.

It is one of the most intense environments in European rugby, and Mallinder handled it well.

"It's one of those stadiums and oppositions that you hope to play in your career," Mallinder said.

"You see how incredible it looks from your sofa, but actually when you get there it's justified.

"It's an incredible place and the noise is amazing, even with little things like when I took my conversion and there was booing and a lot of noise. I've never experienced anything like it.

"It's great learning for me. Even though the result didn't go our way, it's a great experience."

Saints may have lost three successive matches, but there seems to be no shortage of confidence at Franklin's Gardens.

And the green, black and gold will need to be buoyant if they are to sink a Wasps side who have won the past four meetings between the teams.

"We did some really good things last weekend," said Mallinder, who will start today's game on the bench.

"We had some big chances but didn't take them when we needed to.

"We've got to take the positives from the Clermont game and take it into Wasps this weekend.

"Wasps are a great team, they've got some incredible players and they like to play from everywhere.

"They're lethal on turnovers so our defence needs to be improved and our attack can sharpen up a little bit from the past couple of weeks.

"We're excited for it and there's no reason why we can't beat them.

"If we win this game we can go up to the top of the league again."