Battle-hardened Bean savouring his Saints learning curve
For many rugby-loving youngsters, playing profesionally is a childhood dream.
But that certainly wasn't the case for Lewis Bean.In fact, he wasn't even a rugby lover until he started to learn to play during his time in the Army.But after a journey that has taken him from the Army-Navy game to Birmingham Moseley and to Worcester Warriors, Bean has finally arrived at Franklin's Gardens.And the 27-year-old couldn't be happier after winning a deal following some strong showings in training and for the Wanderers."I'm enjoying it a lot, I've settled in well and I'm loving the club and the lads here," Bean said. "I'm just happy to be here."I've been through the Army age groups, I made my way into the senior team and after my first Army-Navy game (in 2017) I went on to play for Birmingham Moseley."I went on to play for Worcester and from there to here."When I was in the Army I had no real interest in rugby really."I didn't think about it until they taught me how to play and I started progressing through the Army age setups."When you get better and better it was a bit like 'let's see how far I can go' but I never thought I'd be playing for Northampton Saints."Training with the squad and playing for the Wanderers was a real good experience for me and getting my contract here and doing pre-season has just been awesome."It's really coming on well and I'm learning stuff every day with the players and coaches around me."It's just great to get on the pitch for the club."There's always work-ons but the coaches are always encouraging and it's just about getting the confidence to play at this level, which is great."I'm not the finished article and I've just got to work on the small things really."Having grown up in the disciplined environment the Army provides, Bean hasn't taken long to adapt to life at Saints."It (the Army background) helps me a lot and I was surprised how much the Army and rugby environments have in common," he said."I've been able to fit in quite well, which is great."When I came here, the lads slotted me straight into the group."We have a laugh every day and we try to make it a fun environment but also a learning one."We're always pushing standards but at the same time we make it fun so it's not a chore."Every day I come into work and from the minute I get here I'm having a laugh."People want to be here and they want to do well for the club."Bean made his first competitive appearance for Saints last Saturday as he started in the 39-18 Premiership Rugby Cup defeat to Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium."We've got to take what we've learned from that game and make things right," Bean said."We've got a home game this week and it will be amazing to play at Franklin's Gardens because we've got really good fans and a really good culture."I've watched a few games from the stands and thought how amazing it is so it will be good to get on the field with the lads."Rifleman Bean, still technically a serving soldier who has been given time off to pursue his rugby career, will add plenty of leadership while on the field, having previously been in far tougher battles."The Army are really supportive," Bean said. "I joined at 18 and went on my first tour at 19," Bean explained."I've been part of numerous overseas excercises and as an infantry section commander you're down there and it's good. I loved it."I've been on two Afghan tours (serving in Helman Province and Kabul) and I've been all over the world with the Army: France, Canada, Africa, America."Now I'm taking things year by year on a rolling contract and I'm seeing how I go here."