Hard work has paid off for Saints debutant Dickinson

GRAFTER - Sam Dickinson has fought his way into contention for a Saints first-team spot

GRAFTER - Sam Dickinson has fought his way into contention for a Saints first-team spot

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Sam Dickinson stands on the Billesley Common pitch with a smile etched on his face.

For so long the forgotten man of Saints, the big No.8 is beginning to make a name for himself.

Fresh from skippering and scoring in the win against a Moseley side he spent some time with at the end of last season, Dickinson heads over to conduct a post-match interview.

The most noticeable thing - other than the back row forward’s imposing frame - is the guard he sports on his left arm.

It is there to prevent any further damage to a limb that has been broken twice in the space of three years.

The second time it happened, there was a real risk Dickinson wouldn’t be able to realise his aim of playing Premiership rugby for Saints.

He had signed on at the club from Rotherham, but suffered a break in one of his final games for the Titans, throwing into doubt his move to the Gardens.

Saints, though, stuck by Dickinson and as he speaks the determination to pay back the faith shown in him is clear.

“I was really grateful because it happened at a bit of an inopportune time - if there’s ever a good time to do it,” says the 28-year-old.

“Just after I signed there was a bit of a grey area contract wise and they could have cleaned their hands of me but they’ve stood by me, saw me through and hopefully I’ll get to pay them back at some point this year.

“I’ll hopefully show them what I can do and contribute in some way.”

As Dickinson points out, it was the most awkward of times for him to sustain such an injury.

Heading into new surroundings, he was desperate to make an impact. To prove he could cut it at the top 
level.

Instead, he was forced to spend days away from his team-mates, recovering while they mounted an assault on the Premiership title.

“It was a lonely old time sat in the gym doing a lot of rehab while the boys were out training,” admits Dickinson.

“Game to game, I was off for about a year so I’m just grateful for Saints sticking by me.

“You’ve just got to twiddle your thumbs and hope for the best. Take your mind off it and do what you can.

“You find yourself picking up a few hobbies because it does no one any good to think about the negatives that could happen.”

Now, though, those negatives can be banished as Dickinson blows away his injury demons on the pitch.

He was impressive in the win at Moseley and went on to play his part in further pre-season victories against Edinburgh and Leinster.

On Saturday, he will make his Saints debut, lining up at No.8 in the Aviva Premiership opening-day clash with Exeter.

It will be the culmination of plenty of hours’ graft behind the scenes.

“It’s good to be back”, he said. “It’s been a long road.

“There were a few issues with it, but Saints have stood by me to get me all healed and I’m good to go now.

“I was down here at Moseley last year, I hopefully did a job for them and I’m good to go (at Saints) now.”