Moon reveals secret to his successful season at Saints

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"It's kind of nice because I've not had that for a little while," says Alex Moon, smiling.

He is discussing how he has been given the odd weekend off to rest by Saints during the early part of 2023 as the coaches seek to keep him fresh for the biggest games.

Such has Moon's importance been to the team this season that he, and some of the other crucial cogs in the Saints wheel, have been wrapped in cotton wool when possible.

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It shows how much Moon's status has improved at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens as he has moved from the fringes of the first team to staple feature.

Alex MoonAlex Moon
Alex Moon

The 26-year-old has had an eventful journey in recent years, going from an England call-up to struggling to get game time at Saints.

But he is now firmly back in the kind of form that earned him international recognition in 2020.

And Moon this week spoke about the secret to his recent success.

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"I'm just enjoying running around and hitting stuff to be honest!," he said.

"I'm not putting a whole lot of thought into anything. I try to get all of that done during the week.

"I just train hard Tuesday, train hard Thursday and get all of the thinking stuff done then so that it gets to a weekend and I'm pretty clear-minded.

"I get to just run around and focus on bringing energy and physicality to the game - that's all I'm thinking about on a matchday.

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"I'm finding enjoyment in all the little things like hitting a breakdown, moving somebody, that's putting a smile on my face.

"Even the unseen stuff and gritty stuff - I'm finding it fun and just enjoying it."

Moon only started eight games for Saints during the 2020/21 season and then seven in the following campaign.

But he has already been in the starting team 13 times in 2022/23, and there are still five regular-season games to go in the Gallagher Premiership.

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He admitted after overcoming a dip in form that his drop in levels came because he was thinking too much about what he was doing on the field.

And Moon sought professional help to ensure he could solve that problem.

"It is really difficult (not to overthink)," he said.

"I sought professional advice from all over the place, spoke to sports therapists.

"I was just trying to do everything so technically right that it mean on a matchday I would look at a breakdown, get to it and then get my body in a position that I know is perfect technique but I'm 6ft 8ins and 120kgs.

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"If I was half my size, I might need to do that breakdown position to move that guy, but actually I just need to run as hard as I can at it, put my head through it and knock someone out of it.

"There is an element of technique to it but that other technique is relevant to somebody else's body shape, not mine.

"Particularly this season, I've raised my training level significantly.

"I've looked at training and thought 'if I really go hard Tuesday, really go hard Thursday and just do all my technical stuff there and switch myself on mentally for those days, I find it a lot easier on a Saturday'.

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"Because I'm so confident off the back of a good training week and I just keep putting in good training sessions, I'm able to go out on a weekend and not have to think because I know I've done all the technical stuff.

"I know I can just go out and run around basically."

Moon has been able to get a regular run of games as he and the coaches have worked hard to ensure he has remained on the field for the matches that truly matter.

"This season more than others, it hasn't been necessary for me to play week in, week out," he said.

"There was a stretch at the start of this year where I had weeks off here and there but I was able to still come back in at the same level.

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"It was because I might have had the weekend off, but I was still there in the training week and still going hard at it when I wasn't playing.

"It meant when I came back in after not playing, I had that confidence.

"I've missed one training session with injury since pre-season.

"Some of that is being looked after by the guys here but some of it is that I've been more professional.

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"I've always been very professional but it's been about dialling that up another level.

"It's from training field and from the recovery point of view.

"Angus Scott-Young is the same, Sam Graham is the same - there's a group of us whose girlfriends aren't particularly happy with us because we don't rock up home until 5pm or 6pm some evenings.

"My girlfriend says 'didn't you finish at 2pm today?' but it just meant I was able to do two hours of recovery after training.

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"I'm able to go at the game hard at the weekend because I've done all that and it's all a snowball effect so I want to keep it going."

Moon has been keeping an eye on the statistics and he is well aware of where he sits in the Premiership's top tacklers league.

"(London Irish flanker) Tom Pearson has overtaken me again," said Moon.

"At the minute, we're pretty much going back and forth.

"I'm pretty happy to battle it out with a flanker when it comes to tackles.

"I've been fit all season and that's the big thing.

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"I've looked after myself well and the club have looked after me well so it's put me in a spot where I can go out on the weekend and just make so many tackles, carries and hit as many breakdowns.

"I feel like I'm getting through a lot more work and some of that is because I've lost a little bit of weight and I'm moving a lot better now than I have done previously.

"Some guys find enjoyment in making linebreaks and scoring a lot of tries, but I get enjoyment from getting through a tonne of work and the little physical bits."

Moon is likely to have to do plenty of tackling on Friday night as Saints take on a free-flowing Bristol Bears side at Ashton Gate.

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"Other than the time we played them away during Covid when we got pumped in the second half, which wasn't fun, I've loved it," Moon said.

"We've never been a team where everyone's gone 'Saints scrum is unreal, they're going to scrum them off the park' but our scrum was unreal and we did go and scrum them off the park last season. That won us the game. It was awesome, I loved that result.

"When we play them here at home, it's a good game because it's a different challenge.

"You're having to constantly move your head all the time because they've got dangerous ball carriers showing up on either shoulder.

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"You'll be up in their 22 and you're defending in space as a second row because most teams kick the ball back to you, but these guys are going to run it from anywhere.

"They've got great ball carriers so it's a challenge and it's fun."

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