Hard work has paid off for Saints centre Symons

Andy Symons has enjoyed a strong start to the season
Andy Symons has enjoyed a strong start to the season

There were days during his recovery when Andy Symons wondered what it was all for.

But last Saturday, the centre was given another reminder of just why he spent so long doing so much to get back in action for Saints.

Symons switched to Northampton from Gloucester during the summer of 2018, but he was soon struck by injury.

He suffered a serious ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in a defeat at Bath in September of last year, and it was to sideline him for the remainder of the season.

It was far from how he imagined his first year in Saints colours.

But he has battled back and now looks in fine fettle.

Symons has already made more appearances this season than he did last time round, when he was only able to start once and come off the bench twice.

He has started three times already during this campaign and was used as a replacement in the 27-25 Gallagher Premiership win at Saracens last Saturday.

And Symons says he owes much to the men behind the scenes at Saints, who played such a big part in his recovery from injury, both physically and mentally.

"My S&C and my physio, Eamonn (Hyland) and Nathan (Allwork), were the two guys who were amazing for me, getting me back in great shape and I feel like I'm in a good space thanks to them," Symons explained. "They're extremely dedicated and unbelievably hard working.

"When I had days where I didn't really fancy it and didn't see the point because I was so far away from playing, they were unbelievable for me.

"I'll always be very grateful to those guys."

And Symons' gratitude doesn't stop there.

"I'm really grateful to the coaches for giving me staggered starts so far this season," said the 28-year-old.

"I've got more game time as I've gone on and then being on the bench and playing for 20 minutes last weekend was great.

"It's just nice to be involved because you take it for granted when you're playing week in, week out.

"But when you get a big injury and you're in the gym all the time, you're just desperate to get back out there.

"The coaches have given me an opportunity to start playing again and it's amazing.

"Every little bit of rehab and effort you put in, you stand there on the pitch 11 months later and think 'I'm so glad I did all that hard work'.

"It was really difficult to be out for so long and it's the hardest part of the game, when you're paid to do a job and you can't do it.

"It was frustrating but luckily I've got amazing people around me here and in my family.

"You've just got to stay on task with little goals and once you can get back involved it's an amazing feeling."

And feelings don't get much better than beating the Premiership and Champions Cup champions in their own back yard.

"It was amazing to be involved last Saturday," said Symons, who came off the bench with 18 minutes to go and made a sizeable impact.

"I've been down there a few times and not got the result so I'm very happy to come away with the win there.

"Not a huge amount was said to me before I came on because I just knew what I needed to do, to go and play my game and try to bring a bit of calm potentially.

"Trying to see out a game against quality opposition isn't easy so you've got to control your emotions.

"I was very fortunate to get on and I'm happy I got to contribute.

"It was a feeling of relief at the end because I've been down there a lot and not got the win.

"Personally and as a team, we worked really hard for that result. I was very happy."

Symons is now ready for the next challenge, which comes in the form of a home game against Worcester Warriors this weekend.

"We've just got to take it one game at a time really," he said.

"Every game we play, we've just got to keep going, but there's definitely a great buzz around the place.

"Worcester will be a big challenge. They got a great win against Leicester last weekend and they're a great team so we've got to back up our performance.

"We're excited about the challenge and looking forward to it.

"Building on performances is key and there's nothing better than playing at Franklin's Gardens so hopefully I get another run out."