Dingwall ready to step up as a Saints leader
Fraser Dingwall is ready to step up as a leader for Saints during the Six Nations.
The talented centre has often exhibited strong leadership credentials in the black, green and gold.
And with regular skipper Lewis Ludlam away with England, the 22-year-old knows it is even more important that everyone has their voice heard to steer the team in the right direction.
Dingwall has been a key member of the first 15 for Saints this season, and he is renowned as an influential player on and off the field at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.
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Ahead of Saturday's Gallagher Premiership trip to Worcester Warriors, he said: "When you lose people to international duty, they tend to all be larger voices in the camp.
"We've lost Lewis, Courts (Courtney Lawes), Furbs (George Furbank) and they all play their part in leading the team.
"It's definitely an opportunity for other boys to step up and I probably will take a bit more on my shoulders."
Dingwall is feeling fresh and ready to go at Sixways on Saturday having not played since coming off at half-time in the 44-8 win at Newcastle Falcons on January 8.
Dingwall made a big impression during that game, producing an incredible hit that led to a try for his team.
And he says he has now fully recovered from the knock he picked up in that match.
"I'm well thank you," Dingwall said.
"I picked up a heavy knock on my right quad against Newcastle so I came off at half-time.
"I'd been carrying a few dead legs but I've had a couple of weeks off now so I'm feeling pretty good and excited to play some rugby again.
"I picked up a whack against Newcastle after about 30 minutes so for the final 10 minutes of the half I was kind of hobbling about and I knew I would be off at half-time.
"I kind of ran around and tried to hit a few things before coming off.
"It was an important win for us there because it's never an easy place to go and it was a performance we were very happy with."
Saints were hit by a Covid-19 outbreak last week, forcing the cancellation of their Champions Cup clash with Racing 92.
The club closed their training ground until Wednesday this week, but Dingwall insists preparations for the return to Premiership action haven't been too different to normal.
"It's been okay," he said.
"We obviously shut the club on Saturday and the boys weren't back in until Wednesday but all the testing has been done and the boys are in good health.
"It was obviously the right thing to do and in terms of disruption to training, there hasn't been huge amounts.
"We wouldn't have got back from Paris until Monday anyway and we would have been off on Tuesday so we've actually had a similar amount of training days.
"In terms of disruption, it hasn't been excessive so the boys are now just very much focused on the weekend.
"We had a good session today (Thursday) and hopefully we can go and pick up the points against Worcester."
Saints currently sit fifth in the Premiership table, three points off fourth-placed Gloucester as the second half of the league season begins.
And Dingwall said: "This is a massively important week to kick off the second half of the season.
"Every week is important, but when you've got a week off on the other side of it (Saints have a bye week next weekend), you've just had a week off and it's an away game, it's a massively important week.
"I think the boys are really hungry to go and get a good result.
"Worcester will potentially have a reaction with the change in coaching staff (head coach Jonathan Thomas has left, while Steve Diamond has been announced as the next director of rugby) and they're starting to find some results now.
"We're putting a massive focus on ourselves because we know if we go down there and put a massive performance in, we can beat anyone in the Prem.
"If we can move the ball to space well and minimise the amount of time they have the ball for, hopefully we can have a good day."
Dingwall has had plenty of good days this season, showcasing the form that made him such a highly-rated prospect when he was making his way through the Saints Academy.
And he said: "I've been really enjoying the season so far.
"I set out before the season started that I wanted to make more impact in games and I wanted to start more regularly.
"I feel like I'm doing quite well, I'm getting towards where I want to be but I'm not there.
"I may never get to where I want to be but I feel like I'm making improvements to my game and I am progressing."