Hutchinson ready to rediscover his best form for Saints

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When Rory Hutchinson is at his free-flowing best, there are few players in the Gallagher Premiership who can open as many doors as he can.

But the Saints centre believes last season was a ‘quiet’ one for him personally and he has stressed the need to rediscover the kind of form that propelled him into the Scotland reckoning not so long ago.

Hutchinson was named Saints' breakthrough player of the year for the 2018/19 season, while also collecting a nomination for the Land Rover discovery of the season award.

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And after stellar performances that saw Saints to the knock-out stages of every senior competition, with Hutchinson featuring in Saints' Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Exeter and being a part of the side that lifted the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2019, the centre was rewarded with a first call-up to the Scotland senior side that summer.

Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Hutchinson made his international debut in the Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, scoring twice against Georgia to mark his first start for Scotland, and then featured in the 2020 Six Nations.

He made a further 28 appearances for Saints in 2021/22, reaching his century for the club in the East Midlands derby against Leicester Tigers in February 2022, while he earned a Scotland recall for their summer tour of Argentina.

But he feels he has not been at his best for some time and is looking to change that in the campaign ahead.

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"For me personally, I just want to get back to how I was playing a few years ago,” Hutchinson said.

"I had a bit of a quiet season last year and I just want to lock in and get my best rugby on the field.

"I feel like if I play well here, hopefully other things will open up.

"It's about playing a free-flowing game of rugby and we've all got that skill of finding open space.

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"For us, it's about connecting and putting it all on the field.”

Hutchinson has made 20 or more appearances in each of the past four seasons for Saints, and he is hoping to feel the benefit of the long build-up to this league campaign.

"It's been a bit of a different pre-season, we're all a bit heavier and we've definitely got more physical as a backline,” the 27-year-old said.

"It's been nice being back and it's been a very long pre-season, the longest I've done.

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"It gets you raring to go and I felt like the pre-season building up to the game last week was a 15-week build-up and we're really looking forward to the game this week.”

Next up for Saints, who suffered a 20-15 defeat in the league opener at Sale last Sunday, is a home clash with an entertaining Bristol Bears side on Saturday.

And Hutchinson said: “I saw some clip earlier of some stuff here in the Boydy era and it's always an exciting game.

"It's one that we're looking forward to, the first Premiership home game of the season so it's going to be exciting.”

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Bristol can now call on the services of powerhouse back Virimi Vakatawa.

“I think last time I played against him was Racing at home here and you can't really miss him because he's a big lad,” Hutchinson said.

“It's a good challenge and it's good to see that kind of talent in the Premiership.”