Saints centre Hutchinson has handled World Cup omission with trademark composure

Rory Hutchinson has continued to impress for Saints
Rory Hutchinson has continued to impress for Saints

Some rugby players are very different on the pitch to how they are off it - but not Rory Hutchinson.

Unflappable on the field, and completely unflustered off it.

That is the 23-year-old, who has become such a key figure for Saints in recent times.

When the action is swirling all around him, he remains composed in the midst of the maelstrom.

And that is exactly how he has handled his surprise omission from Scotland's World Cup squad.

He has refused to let it faze him, instead returning to Northampton and producing the performances that put him in the international picture in the first place.

"It's great to come back," Hutchinson said. "I've loved my time here at Northampton and we want to continue what we did last season.

"We've still got more to give.

"We're two out of two in the Prem, and any team would take that.

"We had a slow start in the Prem Cup and it was disappointing to be knocked out of that so early on after having such good memories of it last season but we really want to take this Premiership block and do as well as we can before we go into Europe.

"We've done really well and it's about maintaining that and not getting complacent."

Hutchinson looked almost a certainty to be selected by Scotland boss Gregor Townsend after some impressive showings during the build-up to the big tournament in Japan.

But the Saints star was eventually overlooked, and his country came home early having bowed out in the pool stages.

Nevertheless, Hutchinson had nothing but sympathy for his international colleagues and coaches.

"I watched every single game and they will be extremely disappointed about what happened," he said.

"I'm gutted for them that they didn't make it out of the pool stages but you look at England four years ago, they were in exactly the same situation and now they're in a World Cup final.

"The boys will be raring to get back into it and really start kicking on for the next World Cup and future tournaments."

As for Hutchinson, you would imagine he will have a big influence on those future tournaments.

And the way he has handled his World Cup heartache will only have helped his cause as he has shown the kind of mental fortitude required at the top level of the sport.

"I'm obviously very disappointed not to have made the 31, but you can't sit back and think about it, saying 'what if?', 'what if?', 'what if?'," Hutchinson said.

"Gregor gave me some work-ons, I've taken that on the chin and I've come back here to work hard and put my hand up for future selection.

"I spoke to my parents about it, family and close friends, but I didn't really want to think about it too much.

"It's like my injuries, you've just got to get on with it because there's not much you can do about it.

"You've got to be the best you can be and I've come back here, I want to play my best rugby and show people that I can do it."

Scotland's loss was certainly Saints' gain.

And Hutchinson has since gone on to help his club secure three successive wins, including two from two matches in the Gallagher Premiership.

"We set the foundations last season and we want to do better now," said Hutchinson, who shone as Saints reached the Premiership play-offs during the previous campaign.

"We've got the taste of knockout rugby and we want to go all the way now.

"We've definitely got the foundation to do it.

"I'm excited for the boys to get back from the World Cup and whoever gets the medal, if I was one of them I'd be wearing it non-stop around the club.

"We want to push on and we're in big-boy Europe and we're going to play against the best teams in the world so we can find out where we're at."

Next up for Saints is a home game against Harlequins in the Premiership on Friday night.

"I love Friday night games and hopefully the weather's alright," said Hutchinson

"We get a really good turnout on Fridays and I'm really looking forward to it.

"There's a short turnaround but the intent in training has been really good."

Hutchinson has good memories of Friday night rugby at Franklin's Gardens, having scored a stunning effort on his debut against Exeter Chiefs back in October 2016.

But last season was when he truly established himself in the first team.

And he is enjoying seeing other youngsters do the same.

"When I got back at the start of this season, I was like 'woah - there's loads of young boys'," said the Cambridge-born back.

"I'm not old at all but it's good to see all this young talent coming through and really stepping up.

"The coaches have told us there will be times in the season that players need to step up, and last season showed that every lad took their opportunity.

"It shows now they've got that respect and trust, they can do it.

"We got down to our fourth choice hooker at one point and it can happen.

"For young lads, it's not about sitting back and waiting a few years - your time could come next week or tomorrow.

"They've done really well."

Saints' youth is balanced out by the experience in the squad.

And they will soon be able to call on the talent and wisdom of All Blacks centre Matt Proctor, who arrived in England this week.

"Matt's coming in next week and that will add more firepower," Hutchinson said.

"It will add to everyone's game, like we all add to each other's games already.

"We've got a really good range of centres and whoever plays at the weekend, we want to make them play as well as possible.

"Having some really good centres is good for the club."