'I'm a targeted man now' - Saints star Ribbans adjusting to extra attention

When you deliver a season that sees you pocket most of your club’s top awards and you get a taste of the England setup, chances are you’re going to become a target.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 24th December 2021, 7:00 am
David Ribbans
David Ribbans

And that is what Saints lock David Ribbans admits he is having to adjuest to.

Ribbans has been at Franklin’s Gardens since January 2017 but this year has seen him take some massive steps forward.

So much so that he replaced club-mate Courtney Lawes in the England squad for the Six Nations in March, though he wasn’t able to get any game time for the Red Rose.

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He then scooped Saints’ players and supporters’ player of the year prizes at the end-of-season dinner following a stellar campaign in which he made 17 appearances, scoring three tries.

Ribbans was banned for the final game of the season, at Bath, after being red carded for a high tackle against Exeter Chiefs.

He was also forced to miss out on the pre-season matches, putting him at a slight disadvantage ahead of the new campaign.

And not only did Ribbans have to deal with that, but when he did finally get back in action, he found he was starting to get more attention from opposition teams.

“It was frustrating the way last season ended because I felt I had decent momentum,” said the 26-year-old.

“I got that red card, I didn’t end up getting selected for England during the summer and it was frustrating.

“I think I’ve struggled a little bit at the start of this season to get back into the rhythm of everything but I’m feeling better now.

“I’m a targeted man now, that’s for sure, and I’m feeling a bit more pressure from the opposition at the moment, which is something I’ve got to get used to.

“I’m slowly getting the confidence back, playing 80 minutes regularly and slowly getting more involved.

“You always have to adapt and get better.

“I’m still working harder in training and doing all my bits.

“It will come.

“It’s just one of those things.

“I’ve had a good couple of seasons for Saints now and it’s just part of it.

“I’ll keep going.

“My role is slightly changing in the team but I’m enjoying it at the moment.”

While Ribbans feels he has now got a target on his back, the same can be said for Saints’ next opponents.

The black, green and gold will travel to Twickenham on Monday to take on Harlequins in Big Game 13.

Quins won the Gallagher Premiership last season and currently sit fourth in the standings, a place and a point below Saints.

And Ribbans said: “There’s lots of excitement ahead of this game.

“Fingers crossed we can have a full house at Twickenham.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play at Twickenham before and I can’t wait to be back there again.

“It’s fantastic to play there - it’s one of the best stadiums in Europe for sure - and it should be eventful.

“It should be a belting game because both teams like to play a bit.

“They’re obviously the reigning champions so all eyes on them, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Quins will be desperate to entertain on the big stage once again - and the same can be said for Saints.

“We have some similiarities but at the moment their 50/50 offloads are sticking a bit more than ours,” Ribbans added.

“They’re an exciting team to watch, no doubt about that.

“They’ve got some key players but after doing some analysis on them, we’ve definitely got some opportunities to go after them.

“We’re looking forward to it and we’re definitely upbeat going into the game.”