Emotional Burrell ready for his final Franklin's Gardens game

Luther Burrell will play his final game at Franklin's Gardens this weekend.

By Tom Vickers
Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 5:00 pm
Luther Burrell is fully focused ahead of his final Franklin's Gardens outing
Luther Burrell is fully focused ahead of his final Franklin's Gardens outing

And in the build-up to the clash with Worcester Warriors, the centre spoke in emotive fashion.

Rarely has a player given a more heartfelt interview, with Burrell taking time to compose his words as he tried to sum up what this Saturday will mean to him.

The 31-year-old arrived in Northampton from Sale Sharks back in 2012 and has gone on to forge a fine career at Franklin's Gardens.

Burrell will be making his 165th Saints appearance this weekend and since starting out with the black, green and gold he has enjoyed some huge highs and lows.

He was a key man in the Saints team that lost in the Premiership final in 2013 and went on to win the title for the first time a year later, while also lifting the Challenge Cup.

Burrell became a fixture in the midfield, with his bulldozing displays a feature of the success of the team.

And after enduring some tough times in a difficult spell for the club in recent years, Burrell is now in form again, and playing in a team that is looking up rather than down.

In fact, should results go their way this weekend, Saints could pretty much have their top-four spot confirmed, bringing back echoes of glory days of years gone by.

And Burrell, who will join rugby league side Warrington Wolves this summer, couldn't be more desperate to finish his time at the Gardens with a win this weekend and another Premiership trophy before the season ends.

"I broke my nose and had a few concussions over the past few weeks and the ultimate aim for me was to make sure I was fit to play this weekend because it's going to mean so much to me," Burrell said.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to push myself and harder than what I'm going to do over the next few weeks to try to put us in a semi-final.

"I'll give my best to the lads around me and hopefully that's enough for us to kick on and get into a semi.

"I've had a bit of time earlier in the week to reflect and first of all I'm proud of what I've managed to achieve here, which has been exceptional, but one thing I'm really happy about is the way the club has turned around.

"It's great to be able to play these last few weeks with a group of lads who are buzzing. We've got a real spring in our step.

"What Boydy (Chris Boyd) and Sam (Vesty), the backroom staff and everyone have done to put us back on the map is great.

"Through the adverse times when Jim (Mallinder) left, Dorian (West) left, Alan Dickens did the head coach role, I'm just really happy that I didn't leave through that period because I would never want to leave with a bad taste in my mouth. The club means more to me than that.

"For me to be able to leave with the club in such a great place with great players and great management is ideal.

"Some people might think it's more difficult but for me it's not because the club's on its right path so I can leave happy, I can leave a true Saint, I can leave with a good taste in my mouth and I can always feel welcome back here.

"On that front, it's great.

"I'm really excited that I'm going to get the opportunity run out here on Saturday."

So how will Burrell be feeling when he steps on to the Gardens turf for the final time this weekend?

"I can't put it into words," he said.

"I'm getting adrenaline now just thinking about it but I'm going to have to bottle it up because the last thing we need is an erratic Luther running around and charging at everyone.

"The best thing is to bottle that emotion up and save it for after and share the moment with people who have been closest to me."

Saints now sit in fourth in the Premiership standings, ahead of Harlequins on games won.

And Burrell and Co now know that two bonus-point wins, at home to Worcester and away to table-topping Exeter Chiefs, will ensure they make the play-off semi-finals.

"We're just in complete control of our own destiny," Burrell said.

"No one can control what Harlequins are going to do, Wasps, Sale - we're in control of what we can do and we've got to really focus on that now.

"We've got to put a professional performance in against a team who have made sure of their Premiership status.

"They've got nothing to lose and that can be quite dangerous at times because they can get the shackles off and play.

"We're going to have to stick to our game plan and hopefully we can come out on top."