Saints scrum-half James ready to pick up where he left off

There are few Saints players who would have been more frustrated by the recent break from action than Tom James.

By Tom Vickers
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 7:20 pm
Tom James
Tom James

The scrum-half was just starting to get into his stride before Covid-19 intervened, putting a stop to matches.

Saints saw their game at London Irish, which was set to be their first fixture of 2021, cancelled due to a Covid-19 outbreak at Irish.

And Saints then suffered the same issues as the virus got through the door at Franklin’s Gardens, forcing the game against Leicester Tigers to be cancelled.

The Champions Cup was then suspended, meaning scheduled matches against Leinster and Bordeaux were called off.

And that means by the time Saints take to the field against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday, it will have been more than a month since Chris Boyd’s side have played.

For James, the break has put a spanner in the works as he was starting to establish himself before it occurred.

The 27-year-old, who joined from Championship side Doncaster Knights last summer, was given a chance to start against Leinster in Dublin in December.

And he grabbed his opportunity with both hands, scoring and setting one up in a hugely accomplished showing in the No.9 shirt.

He came off the bench in the following week’s win against Worcester Warriors and would have been hoping for more game time against Irish.

But it wasn’t to be, and James will now have to do it all again as he looks to become a regular part of the matchday squad.

"It’s obviously pretty frustrating when you start to get a bit of momentum and game time and then you can’t play," James said.

"But there’s probably a lot of players in that boat so I’ve just got to keep my head down and get on with it.

"The Leinster game was definitely a great experience and I really enjoyed it.

"As a professional you always want to test yourself against the best teams and it doesn’t get much tougher than Leinster away in the European Cup.

"It was a performance we could be pretty proud of as a team and I really enjoyed being a part of it.

"I knew I’d be involved in one or both of the European games so I could get my head around it.

"I didn’t know I was starting until that week so it was an exciting time for me."

James’ first Saints start came last season as he linked up with the club during the Covid-19-enforced break in the 2019/20 campaign.

He lined up against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate but it was to be a baptism of fire as Bristol ran riot, winning 47-10.

"It was a tough day," he said.

"We put a young side out for that one to give a few guys a chance and Bristol put out their top gun team.

"It was a hard game but again something that I really enjoyed."

James has now racked up five appearances for Saints in total.

And he will be desperate to compete with the likes of Alex Mitchell and Henry Taylor for more game time in the coming weeks.

"We’re going in the right direction as a team and we’ve improved a lot over the past few months," James said.

"We’ve stopped making as many mistakes and handing as many tries over so we’re getting that confident mindset back and feeling we can beat anyone on our day.

"I haven’t had a run of games as yet and it can be difficult if you don’t get that momentum but with the experienced guys we’ve got in this squad, it makes it easier to come in and play a part at the weekend.

"I wasn’t too disappointed not to start against Worcester after the Leinster game went so well because other guys had been doing well in weeks prior to that.

"I was really happy to be involved in the Worcester game and it was just frustrating because we had a break after that which wasn’t planned.

"We were really looking forward to London Irish and Leicester but I’ve got my head down and worked on everything I can work on.

"I’ve been working with Sam Vesty to get small details right and also working with Ian Vass to be a leader in defence.

"We’ve got four really good scrum-halves here so it’s very competitive and when guys have been involved they have put in some really good performances."