JAMES WILSON admits Northampton is like a home from home for him.
The centre signed on at Saints this summer after spending a year at French Pro2 side Bourgoin.
Prior to that the 29-year-old, who hails from Invercargill in New Zealand, represented Southland in his homeland for eight years.
The province had a huge passion for rugby and Wilson seems similar qualities in his new surroundings in Northampton.
“You’re a proud rugby town, you really get behind the players and the team, and that’s exactly the same sort of values as we have got where I’m from,” he said. “Our town is the same because we get behind the team and it’s great to see.
“It’s a massive part of the culture back home, especially where I’m from – it’s a very proud province.
“I played my first game for them when I was still at school and then I ended up playing for them for eight years. It was a lot of time and I’m very proud to have been able to represent my province in that way.”
Wilson got a culture shock when he headed to France as he was struck by the physical nature of the rugby played across the Channel.
It was a baptism of fire for the player, who had previously written himself into Southland folklore by helping them win the Ranfurly Shield on two occasions.
“In the second or third training session at Bourgoin I ended up with eight stitches across my forehead,” he said. “That was a bit of a wake-up, but it definitely helped me personally with my physical game.
“There is a lot more contact and you have to be very aggressive on defence and in attack with the ball in hand. I learnt so much from doing that and it added to my game which I’m very thankful for.”
Having adapted to the weekly battles at Bourgoin, Wilson now believes he is prepared for life in the Premiership.
And he is ready to bring plenty of creativity as well as huge amounts of fire and desire to the Saints table in the coming season.
“I’m a guy that can bring a lot of aggression to defence and I play like a ten as well,” Wilson said. “I see space and that’s a big thing that can help out the team.
“I can run and defensively I don’t like letting anyone get past me. That’s a big factor in how I play and I like to be aggressive in that area.”