Coles ready to seize his big Saints chance

Alex Coles
Alex Coles

For Alex Coles and Saints, it is most definitely time to shine.

From a team perspective, the black, green and gold must banish memories of their most recent match when they square up to Bristol Bears on Sunday.

Saints suffered a disappointing late defeat to London Irish on home soil on January 24 before a three-week break ensued.

But now they get the chance to right those wrongs against a swashbuckling Bears side this weekend.

And Coles, who has spent some of his time away in France, said: "It's been nice to have a little break.

"We had a week where we could be properly off and then a week where it was almost like pre-season, back in the gym doing fitness and stuff.

"It's quite welcome and everyone needed it because we didn't get much time off at Christmas.

"It was really frustrating we lost before the break because we set our goal of getting all those wins and it could have been a good month for us.

"But having had that loss, we thought it was an on-par month and that we'd let ourselves down a bit by losing that last game.

"It was tough to go away not on a high.

"Everyone's pretty excited to get back to it now, having had two weeks with no games.

"Some boys have been around the England environment and Hutch (Rory Hutchinson) has been with Scotland as well so everyone's raring to get back to it.

"We want to make right what happened against Irish and the mood is pretty optimistic, pretty buzzing.

"The fans deserved a better performance than what we gave them against Irish so hopefully against what is an exciting Bristol team, we can give them something to cheer about."

Coles has impressed for Saints this season, starting seven times and coming off the bench in a further five matches.

But with Courtney Lawes on Six Nations duty and Api Ratuniyarawa suspended, he knows he must really step up in the weeks to come.

"I feel like this is the perfect time for me to be able to hold my hand up for a starting spot in years to come," said the 20-year-old.

"Especially going into next year, which I see as a big year for me, I've got high ambitions for what I want to achieve with the club.

"I've got an opportunity to hold my hand up and get some experience under my belt.

"I want to show I can be relied on week in, week out to perform at Premiership level.

"As much as I enjoyed the England Under-20s stuff, it's nice to be able to focus on the Saints and to be involved here every week rather than rotating in and out.

"Hopefully I can make the most of it."

Coles appears to have a huge amount of potential that could one day lead him to the door of the senior England squad.

He has already seen one of his team-mates get their first call for the Red Rose this season, with Alex Moon named in the Six Nations squad.

And Coles was delighted for his fellow Saints second row forward.

"I was really pleased for him," Coles said.

"I spoke to him as soon as I found out, and it's thoroughly deserved.

"I've worked alongside him for a bit and even before I was contracted here I played with him at Wandies level and he was always incredibly helpful.

"We've got a great relationship and it's testament to all the work he's put in.

"He's a good lad and I'm really happy for him."

Coles and Moon's next mission is to help Saints defeat a bullish Bristol team on Sunday.

And Coles said: "They have a fair bit of structure but they do throw the ball around a bit.

"Within their structure, they tend to offload a bit more and go to width a bit more rather than playing a direct forwards game.

"It's similar to us in that respect, and we're looking forward to that challenge.

"Hopefully the weather will hold out and it's not like another Scotland-England game."