Saints' style is Taylor-made for Henry

Henry Taylor has already had a big impact at Saints
Henry Taylor has already had a big impact at Saints

When Saints supporters looked forward to the start of this season, thoughts of the club's new signings will have whetted the appetite.

The likes of Owen Franks and Matt Proctor were drafted in from New Zealand, while Ryan Olowofela swapped the sevens scene for life at Franklin's Gardens.

But few would have predicted that Henry Taylor, a recruit from Saracens, would hit the ground running quite as impressively as he has.

Taylor was seen as competition for Cobus Reinach and Alex Mitchell, but it looked certain that the latter two would continue to dominate the No.9 shirt.

That was until Reinach's fine form was rewarded with a call-up to the South Africa squad and Mitchell injured his knee playing for England at the end of last season.

Taylor stepped in and stepped up.

And Saints have not looked back, with the scrum-half one of the stars of the formative stages of the current season.

He has taken to life in Northampton like a duck to water, pulling the strings as the team has racked up three wins from as many Gallagher Premiership games.

He also shone in a Premiership Rugby Cup win at Leicester Tigers prior to that, earning plenty of praise from supporters.

And Taylor, who was unfortunate with injuries during his time at Saracens, is loving his fresh start at Saints, admitting the slick style they employ really suits his game.

"I didn't have any expectations - I just knew Saints was on the way up and to come in here I got a bit lucky with some game time early on because of the obvious two who are away," Taylor said.

"I've just loved playing with such a young, ambitious group and we've had some fun out there.

"I had almost the same injury as what Alex Mitchell had so I was out for almost a year not doing anything, having three operations and then another year trying to get my body back into shape to play.

"I'm just enjoying playing rugby again and the style that Saints play.

"I probably lost a bit of my game when I was with Saracens because it's a different structure to what Saints play here, but it also meant I spent a lot of time working on other parts of my game that probably weren't very good when I joined Saracens at 19, 20.

"But for me, this is how I want to be playing rugby. I want to play free-flowing stuff.

"It's not going to come off every time but when it does come off it looks great, boys enjoy it and buzz off it.

"I'm loving it."

But Taylor is under no illusions that he must keep improving if he wants to stay in the Saints team.

"I've got so much still to work on," he said.

"I've only played three Premiership games with this squad and we're all learning how each other play.

"I'm definitely still learning more and more about the way Saints play and every week I'm reviewing it with the coaches.

"It is the style I like to play and I'm trying to fit more into the game plan."

Taylor will soon get the chance to compete for a starting spot with South Africa star Reinach, who will return from the World Cup as a champion.

"I saw him outside the physio room before I properly joined but I haven't properly met him," Taylor said.

"Obviously it's a huge medal for him to be bringing home and he'll be buzzing from that.

"We're looking forward to all the internationals coming back in to bring even more energy."

This Saints team is full of energy, with so many young players making their mark in recent times.

And Taylor, who has just turned 25, said: "I would have thought I was quite a young player, but actually this team is very young.

"Voices are coming from more and more of the young lads and it breeds the improvement because people need to step up and talk.

"What's been so pleasing for me is the small-talk on the pitch and solving the problems that are in front of us when we're not getting it right for 10 minutes.

"We talk, we solve problems and it's been fun because I haven't done that for a few years and it's another part of life I'm enjoying at the Saints."

Taylor has formed an effective half-back combination with 21-year-old fly-half James Grayson.

"He's been awesome," Taylor said.

"When we started we were a bit clicky, but now we're starting to fit together nicely.

"We're playing good rugby and he's stepped up to the plate.

"I haven't seen someone put us in such good areas. It's been ridiculous. Even when we're getting penalties, James is putting us right in the corners on the five-metre line.

"What's nice is that we're getting to gel and see the same things."

Next up for Taylor, Grayson and Co is a trip to Gallagher Premiership bottom side Bath on Saturday.

And Taylor said: "The focus has solely been on us improving as a team but obviously we've looked at who they've got coming in at the weekend and we're taking into account that The Rec might tear up a bit with the weather.

"But I'd like to think we're taking the energy from the past three games into this and we're going there as problem solvers and seeing what the day brings to us."

Saints have already won at Leicester and Saracens this season, with Taylor starring on both occasions.

And he said: "To go to Saracens and turn them over at their place gave us belief in a squad that's young and which is thinking 'are we quite good enough to face up to Saracens?'

"It gave us the belief to take into the next few games."