Mitchell becoming increasingly important to Saints

Alex Mitchell has been impressing for Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Mitchell has been impressing for Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

It was a sign of Alex Mitchell's growing importance to Saints that he did not play a huge role in the recent Premiership Rugby Cup matches.

Seen as a development competition, Saints took the chance to hand summer signing Charlie Davies some game time and kept Mitchell and Cobus Reinach's involvement to a minimum.

Mitchell started one game, was rested for another and came off the bench in the defeat at Gloucester last Friday.

And the scrum-half is now primed for another Gallagher Premiership appearance when Wasps come calling at Franklin's Gardens this Saturday.

He was picked ahead of Reinach for the Challenge Cup win at Dragons last month and rewarded the coaches with a first-half try.

And it now appears that the Academy graduate and the South African star are extremely close in the Saints pecking order, with Davies playing catch-up after some injury issues.

"It has been a bit different for me," Mitchell said.

"I got a week off and that was great for me to rest up. I'm in and out, starting one, resting one and being on the bench for one.

"I've got a good bit of game time and if I'm getting game time in the Premiership that's great.

"It's great (to be wanted in Premiership matches) and I know they want to give game time to other lads to share it around the squad.

"It's good for me that the coaches have the confidence in me for the Premiership and other games."

So is the 21-year-old seeing real progression in his own game this season, having featured in eight of the 11 matches in all competitions so far?

"I feel I have come on," Mitchell said.

"There are things I do need to work on that I've spoken to the coaches about and that just comes with more game time.

"I just need to keep pushing on but I'm really enjoying it and I feel like I'm really improving as a player."

Mitchell and close friend James Grayson have been brought their long-standing half-back partnership to the first team in recent times.

And Mitchell said: "I've played alongside Grayson with Saints Under-18s, England Under-20s so it's great and I've got confidence in him on the pitch.

"We are good mates off the pitch, we go for coffees all the time and he was my room-mate in the World Cup.

"We like to spend a lot of time together so we know each other quite well and we enjoy each other's company.

"Now we're getting our chances in the first team and we're really enjoying it."

Mitchell and Grayson attracted plenty of praise after the Premiership Rugby Cup win against Bristol Bears last month.

"I try to keep my head in the sand over social media - I'm not too fussed about that," Mitchell said.

"But I do hear the positive comments here and there, which is great for me and it just gives you confidence as a player.

"You want to impress the fans and put on a good game for them."

The pressure will be on the young players and their senior team-mates in the coming weeks with crucial Premiership games against Wasps, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons lying in wait.

"It is important for us and every bonus point will be huge," Mitchell said.

"It's great experience for the young lads and we're all relishing the opportunity.

"We've just got to play our normal game this weekend and if we stick together as a team, there won't be too much trouble for us to face."