Saints wing Collins ready to put late-season frustration behind him

Tom CollinsTom Collins
Tom Collins
Tom Collins is ready to put a frustrating end to last season behind him as he bids to kick on at Saints in the campaign ahead.

Collins was a key figure as the black, green and gold propelled themselves into the Gallagher Premiership play-off picture during the second half of the 2021/22 season.

Saints won four successive games after losing at Gloucester in early March.

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But Collins then lost his place in the team as Saints continued to push on, beating Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons to ensure they would be in the end-of-season shootout.

Chris Boyd's side eventually lost at Leicester in the last four, but Collins did not play in any of the final four matches of the campaign.

Tommy Freeman, Courtnall Skosan and Matt Proctor were the men preferred on the wing.

And Collins, who started in the 40-26 pre-season success against Bedford Blues at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday, said: "I thought it was a pretty good season for me - ups and downs like in any sport.

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"I was frustrated not to be playing at times, but I've got to take those lessons and get that consistency right week in, week out.

"It's tough sometimes, especially when you get taken out of the team because you want to keep learning and progressing.

"When you have a bad game you want to go into the next week and put it right.

"I thought I did well last season and I had a lot better season in terms of consistency.

"I've got to build on it and hopefully be successful here."

And he added: “This season is massive, like any other.

“I want to keep pushing on and getting into the team.

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“For me, it's about focusing on that consistency and getting everything right off the pitch as well.

“When you're playing week in, week out, you thrive on it.

“It's very tough when you get taken out of the team to keep that motivation going.

“You can have four or five weeks on the bench or not in the squad and then you've got to come back in and perform.

“For me, it's about making sure that I'm consistent and I keep focusing on those small details every week.”

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So what did the coaches say to Collins when he was left out at the crucial stage of last season?

“They told me to keep building on things.

“It's been a theme of my career that I've had five or six hot games and then been out of the team for a few weeks and then come back in again and done okay.

“It's about keeping that hunger and desire there when I'm in the team.

“I'm not always going to play amazingly, but I can still do the small details well in terms of the breakdown and defence.

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“I've got to focus on that and focus off the pitch to prepare well.”

Collins has gone from boy to man during his time at Saints, where he came through the Academy.

But the 28-year-old says his appetite is as great now as it ever was.

“I definitely have that hunger - if not even more than when I was younger,” Collins said.

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“Having younger lads biting at your heels, trying to get in the team, the hunger's always been there.

“I want to perform and I want to get in the team.

“I'll always have that hunger while playing for Saints.”

Collins certainly looked hungry against Bedford last weekend, and he almost engineered an incredible try, chipping the defence twice before giving the ball to Tom Litchfield, who knocked on at the last.

The signs were promising from Saints' speedy wide man.

And Collins said: “It was a good first blow-out.

“It feels like yesterday we were playing Tigers and it's flown around.

“We've had a good pre-season but it's nice to get a first run-out.

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“It was scrappy and there's bound to be errors in the game, which there were.

“We put in a good performance to take into Ospreys this week and leading into the season.

“We've got loads to work on and we know that.

“Dows (Phil Dowson), (Sam) Vesty and the coaching group have been great with us.

“We've got a young group and we need to keep learning. Hopefully that will lead into Sale and we can go from there.”

Dowson took over as Saints boss this summer.

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And Collins said: “I've played with Dows and he's a great coach who is great at driving standards.

“We're such a young squad and everyone's so willing to learn, which is great.

“We need to keep taking the lessons from these games.”