Grayson aims to celebrate new Saints deal with step into unknown

James Grayson recently signed his first senior contract at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
James Grayson recently signed his first senior contract at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

While Saints could watch hours of footage on most opponents if they wanted, DVDs of Timisoara Saracens aren't exactly freely available.

The trip to face the Romanian minnows will be something of a step into the unknown for Chris Boyd's men this weekend and they aim to secure a third Challenge Cup win of the season.

Having lost their opening fixture to French giants Clermont Auvergne at Franklin's Gardens, Saints have bounced back by smashing the Dragons not once, but twice.

They walloped the Welsh outfit 48-14 in Northampton last Saturday and are now setting their sights on Timisoara.

But there has not been too much focus on the opposition this week, with Saints opting to concentrate on themselves.

"I'm massively excited about this game," said fly-half James Grayson.

"It's a bit of an unknown for us because there's not a lot of video footage.

"We're focusing on ourselves a lot and how we're going to go over there and impose our game on them.

"As you'd expect, they're very set-piece dominant, focusing on their scrum and their maul, so we've got to be wary of that.

"We've got to go over there and just put our game on the park and we'll be alright."

Timisoara have been thrashed twice by Clermont, having suffered an equally heavy defeat at home to the Dragons on the opening day.

Grayson will look to ensure Saints are also able to prevail, and it would be a good way for the 20-year-old to celebrate signing his first senior contract at his boyhood club.

"I'm chuffed to bits about that," said the Academy graduate.

"The natural progression was to sign a senior contract and stay at the club because it's where I've been ever since I was little.

"It's nice for me to be continuing on this path with such great young boys and senior boys as well as the coaches.

"It was a no-brainer for me.

"I'm playing my 20th game at the weekend so I've played a few and it's nice to get that senior contract under the belt. It's a stepping stone in any young boy's career."

So what is Grayson focusing on as he looks to build his game?

"For me, it's about trying to get those second touches on the ball," he explained.

"You see Beauden Barrett do it, and Owen Farrell does it pretty well. Once they've made a pass and there's a break, they get a second touch on the ball and they end up scoring a lot of tries that way.

"For me, getting those second touches is a big work on."

Grayson was a key figure in the successful Wanderers team that has won the past two A League titles.

He emerged as a prolific goalkicker while also possessing a creative spark.

However, his past couple of games for the first team have been tough when it comes to making his mark from the tee.

And he said: "Goalkicking has always been one of my strong points so though I've had a hiccup over the past couple of weeks, hopefully it won't be the same for the long term.

"There's a lot of elements to it.

"It's funny - when you're going through a rough patch because I had eight kicks from the touchline on the bounce.

"It's a constant work-on and there's so much in goalkicking that can go wrong. You can be going at the ball too quickly, you can lose your height in the kick, you can try to kick the ball too hard. There's all these things you've got to think about.

"Something I've been working on it being process driven - get your process right and the outcome will take care of itself.

"It's actually a bit similar to how we want to play, having that process base. If you get your processes right, the outcome won't be too bad."

Grayson is working hard to get the belief back in his goalkicking.

He added: "Sometimes you get in a little rhythm. You'll have eight kicks from the touchline, you'll get seven and you'll hit the post with the other and be annoyed with that one.

"When you're going through a rough patch and you're trying to find something that works - maybe you've lost your run-up a little bit - you end up getting eight on the touchline and you miss seven.

"It's swings and roundabouts.

"When you find that rhythm, it's nice, and when you're off and your confidence is low, you're trying to get that back.

"A lot of hours go in on the practice pitch to get that back."

It is not just Grayson who has suffered with the boot this season.

Dan Biggar had a tricky day in tough conditions against Dragons last weekend.

But Grayson said: "Dan's obviously great. You look at the weekend and people see him miss a couple of kicks from the touchline in an absolute gale and they don't understand there's a 40mph wind blowing over the top of the stand.

"We'll get there and it's a constant battle to find perfection, but we're trying."

Grayson's progression at Saints has been helped by the fact he is continually playing alongside so many faces he has grown up with in the Academy.

"The list of young boys coming through is endless," he said.

"There are even boys in the Under-17s and Under-16s who are making waves so it's a great place to be.

"It's nice to come into work every day and be with your mates.

"You laugh every day and enjoy it but you're serious and work at the same time.

"It's nice to see the boys' labour coming to fruition."