Saints Q&A: Reece Marshall on coming of age at Franklin’s Gardens

Reece Marshall made his Premiership debut last weekend (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Reece Marshall made his Premiership debut last weekend (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Reece Marshall made his Premiership debut for Saints last weekend.

And in doing so, he followed in the footsteps of two of his team-mates in progressing through the club’s Academy to get a go in the Northampton No.2 shirt.

Marshall is at the ideal club to learn the role of hooker, with England captain Dylan Hartley and the hugely talented Mike Haywood above him in the pecking order.

The 21-year-old is taking it all in his stride, stressing that he eventually wants to usurp both of those men in his bid to earn a regular starting spot.

And this week at Franklin’s Gardens, Marshall faced the media for the first time.

Reece, you came off the bench to make your Premiership debut against London Irish last weekend - how did that feel?

“It was good. I didn’t get a feel for the crowd until after the game.

“When i got on there, my mind was on getting in the right place at the right time, hitting lineouts, scrums.

“It was after the match that I got an appreciation of how I’d been out there and what I’d actually done.

“It was nice to have my mum here. She rarely comes and watches me so that was nice.

“I got more of an appreciation of the crowd after the game rather than while I was playing.

“I’ve wanted this for a couple of years.

“You always tell yourself you’re ready for a year or so, but you realise how physical it is, how quick it is and when you haven’t played in a while, it catches up with you.

“I’m just looking forward to this week now and hopefully getting a succession of games, especially while Dylan’s away.

“I want to get involved and prove myself on that stage.”

This seems like the ideal club for a young hooker to be at, with Dylan Hartley and Mike Haywood both here to learn from...

“They are good hookers, but the aim is to push them and improve yourself.

“(Forwards coach) Nobby (Dorian West) is great in working with us. Him being a former hooker himself pushes us on and you get a personal insight into things.

Does Dorian give you much praise or does he take a harder line with you?

“He’s actually softer than you’d think sometimes.

“Lineouts and scrums are your bread and butter so those are the things most young hookers work on. That’s the massive step up at Premiership level, other than the physicality and stuff like that.

“You’ve got to get your set piece right to make it at this grade and that’s the thing he’s most concerned with to push on with myself. I’m sure he was the same with Mikey and Dylan.”

How much do you speak to Mike and Dylan during the week?

“I speak to them every day.

“Mike and me spend a lot of time together, picking little bits out of each other’s game and that’s what you do.

“You just help each other out.

“You know you’re always in competition with each other, but there’s no point just going off at each other, you might as well help each other and prove what you can do on the pitch.”

How much inspiration do you take from someone like Teimana Harrison who is an Academy graduate who has really staked his claim for a starting spot this season?

“Before I started here I came for a pre-season and I actually lived with Tei. It was his first or second year.

“It’s interesting to see how we’ve both got on.

“He’s played a serious amount of games now.

“Everyone’s always known he’s good enough - it’s just having that chance.

“When he’s had his chance, he’s taken it. Everyone’s seen that and that’s what I want to do now.

“It’s nice to see what he’s done and we all look at lads who have come through and done stuff like that. We’ve got a lot of praise for them.”

You look like you’ll be in the squad for the next few weeks with Dylan away. Do you take it all in your stride or do you get nervous?

“I wouldn’t say I’m a nervy person. I try not to get too excited for games because that makes me more nervous.

“Being on the bench, I try to relax, have a laugh and not focus on things too much.

“When I get on, everything else is out of the window, so I’m quite a relaxed guy.

“In training is where I sometimes get a bit nervy because I want to do things right. I put a lot of pressure on myself in training.”

You’ve been in the matchday squad a few times now. When you’re watching, are you the sort of player who absorbs what’s going on?

“When I’m on the bench, I feel like more of a fan. I’m always complaining about the ref if there’s a penalty against us. I’m up in the air if we score a try.

“I get a bit worked up about it.

“I don’t mind coming on in any situation. I was fortunate last week that we were quite comfortable and they felt they could give me a runaround without putting me under pressure.

“You just look at the game and I just go on and play. You just go on and do what you can and it’s the team performance that matters.

“Last weekend, I came on and I felt like it was 0-0. It was quite unfortunate that we lost men to yellow cards because then it’s a lot of running round defending.

“I got about four or five carries in the first few minutes and then none for the rest of the game.

“You just want to get on and play, you don’t think about the score, you just think about what your job is going to be and try to help the team.”