Relaxed Mitchell taking it all in his stride at Saints

Alex Mitchell took his chance at Saints last season and has looked to kick on during the build-up to the new campaign (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Mitchell took his chance at Saints last season and has looked to kick on during the build-up to the new campaign (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

He might have been taking on some of the best players the Premiership had to offer, but you would never have known it.

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell made the step up for Saints towards the end of last season and took to life in England's top division like a duck to water.

The 21-year-old was thrust into the spotlight following the early-April departure of South African Nic Groom.

Mitchell was made the main back-up to Cobus Reinach and came off the bench in some big late-season encounters, scoring at Wasps and helping Saints to claim their first win against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road since February 2007.

The Maidstone-born No.9 certainly didn't look out of place as he took his tally of first-team appearances to nine.

And now he is eager to pick up where he left off when Saints start the new season at Gloucester on Saturday.

"It was a great to get an opportunity at such a young age and to get a few games in at the end of last season really gave me confidence to push on this season," Mitchell said.

"It was a bit different to playing in the Wandies games but it was a great experience and the boys helped me through it.

"It's great to get some confidence from those games.

"I was thrilled to get some game time with the first team and I hope I did enough last season.

"I showed what I could do to give the coaches confidence in me to play me every week."

Mitchell certainly inspired confidence as he showed no lack of self-belief and no real signs of nerves.

"I'm not too bad with that," he said. "Before the game I get a bit nervous, but when you're on the pitch you're doing your role and you know what you're doing.

"I don't mind it too much, you don't really look at the players they've got, you just play your game, which is a great mindset to have.

"It's great to play against those big teams."

Mitchell's confidence has only grown during the summer with new attack coach Sam Vesty and the rest of the coaching staff giving the Saints players license to shine.

"The coaches are so positive, all of them," Mitchell said.

"They always look at the positive parts of your game and they always talk about improving the best parts of your game, not just working on other things.

"They just pump confidence into you, they never really look at the mistakes, they just look at what you're doing well, which is great as a young player.

"If you're performing well, they've said you're likely to play week in, week out. It's great to see.

"The coaches have got confidence, whoever you are."

Mitchell has also been taking tips from Reinach, who has been getting better and better for Saints since switching to the club in the summer of 2017.

"He's great, he's so energetic and he just loves the game," Mitchell said.

"We get on really well and we're always doing extras together.

"He's a great person to be around.

"We're both quite lively nines, we both like to have a run with the ball, which is great to have.

"We want to throw the ball around this year and do the passing and kicking that a team needs.

"We complement each other quite well."

But it won't just be Mitchell and Reinach battling it out for starts this season.

Charlie Davies is a summer arrival from the Dragons and though he has not been able to play during pre-season due to injury, he is now on the comeback trail.

"He's been good, a good character around the club," Mitchell said.

"He's been injured during the first part of pre-season and he's just coming back fit now. I think he'll be playing on Monday for the Wanderers (against Leicester at Loughborough).

"He's a great character and it will be good to see him this year as well.

"He's quite a solid scrum-half, good around the park, a solid passer and kicker.

"He's a good player to have."