Naiyaravoro feeling sharp as he gears up for his big Saints debut

Such is the fervour surrounding Taqele Naiyaravoro's Saints arrival that the player has even been stopped by supporters at a service station.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 4:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 4:38 pm
Taqele Naiyarovoro made his first appearance in Northampton colours for the Wanderers against Leicester Tigers at Loughborough University (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Taqele Naiyarovoro made his first appearance in Northampton colours for the Wanderers against Leicester Tigers at Loughborough University (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

It is a sign of how desperate fans are to see the gargantuan Australian wing run out in the black, green and gold.

And this weekend, they may finally get what they have been waiting for.

Naiyaravoro did not feature for the Wanderers at Sale on Monday night and after being put up for media duties a day later, everything suggests he will be unleashed against Saracens on Saturday afternoon.

Not since the arrival of Wales wing George North has a player whetted the appetites quite like Naiyaravoro has done.

North's arrival from the Scarlets was greeted with great fan fare in the summer of 2013, especially as Saints supporters got to see him starring in Australia with the British & Lions before he made his way to Northampton.

And Naiyaravoro's recent form has been similar, with the 26-year-old tearing up Super Rugby, scoring 15 tries for the Waratahs on their way to the semi-finals.

Saints will desperately be hoping that the three-week post-Super Rugby season break he so deserved has not taken the spring out of his step.

Because if it hasn't, he could frighten the life out of champions Saracens if given the chance at Franklin's Gardens this weekend.

"I only had three weeks after the semi-final in Super and it was a bit of a long season but I had three weeks off to just rest and now I'm here," Naiyaravoro said.

"I did absolutely nothing during the break - I just took the kids and the wife out to Gold Coast.

"I stayed around Australia and did a bit of packing to get here.

"It was a good rest, a good time for me and now I've been here for two weeks, getting some fitness in, doing some extras and I'm feeling good."

And that will be music to the ears of Saints supporters, with Naiyaravoro revelling in the well wishes he has received since arriving in England.

"I heard about it (the buzz his arrival has created) at the end of last week," he said.

"I drove to a service station and some supporters were asking when I was going to play.

"For me, I thank the fans for thinking about me getting here.

"I'm always grateful to have fans and supporters who want me to run out and I'm here now so as soon as I get the call, I'll do my best out there."

So just why has Naiyaravoro, who enjoyed a successful stint at Glasgow Warriors during the 2015/16 season, chosen Northampton as his next destination?

"It's about challenging myself," he said.

"After 50-plus games for New South Wales in Super Rugby, I thought it was time to come here.

"I want to play Premiership rugby now - I don't want to come here when I'm 35 or something.

"I wanted to bring my family over and get as much experience as I can and experience playing rugby on the other side of the world.

"It's not a long career so it's about challenging myself now in the Premiership."

Naiyaravoro, who played for the Wanderers against Leicester Tigers at Loughborough University last week, was one of the best players in Super Rugby last season, equalling the record for most tries scored in a season.

He did plenty of hard graft to get in top condition and now he wants to replicate his Waratahs form with Saints.

"To be honest, I wasn't really counting the tries but I got the notice with four games left that I was getting close to the record," he said.

"For me, I started off in pre-season saying I wanted to be the best winger in Super Rugby, the best finisher and that really came to reality during the season.

"The same goal I implemented there, I've implemented here as well.

"I'm trying to be the best I can.

"This is my first season here in the Premiership and I'm not going to say it's going to be the same as in Super, but I'll try my best in the time I'm here.

"Hopefully it will work out."