Ribbans ready to help Saints put things right
'‹David Ribbans is ready to rediscover his early-season form as he bids to propel Saints to Anglo-Welsh Cup glory.
The lock started the campaign in style, starring during his first start of 2017/18 as he scored twice in a win against Bath at Franklin's Gardens back in September.
A couple more first-team appearances and victories followed, against London Irish and Harlequins, before Saints started to hit a sizeable dip.
But Ribbans had done enough to earn a new deal before injury struck and his season was disrupted.
He was missing from the Saints starting line-up for two months, between October and December, but the 22-year-old is now back in the swing of things.
And though it didn't go to plan when he lined up in the back row at Saracens last weekend, Ribbans knows he and his team-mates have a chance to put things right when they travel to Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday.
"We've had a pretty disappointing season, but there's a real opportunity in the Anglo-Welsh Cup," said Ribbans.
"If we win these next two games, we could get a home semi-final and still win some silverware.
"It's important for the boys to start winning some trophies with the Saints so we're looking forward to this weekend.
"We're going to be going all guns blazing for this weekend and hopefully we can get the win."
On his injury, which he picked up in a Wanderers game, Ribbans said: "Injury is never great and I had an ankle injury that set me back a bit.
"I struggled to get back into the team so I'm just looking to build a bit of confidence within myself and the team to take into the Premiership.
"I need to get a bit more confidence, get my hands on the ball a bit more.
"It takes a bit of time to get back to form after injury but we've got a few games now that I can get myself back into the team, play regularly and get a bit of momentum again."
Ribbans' early-season performances saw him earn rave reviews, with his promise evident since he switched to Saints from Western Province in January 2017.
"I've really enjoyed it and been made to feel at home by all the players and staff," said the English-qualified forward.
"I couldn't actually believe how much support I've had from the fans, too.
"It's another reason why I wanted to stay here because the fan base is amazing here at Northampton.
"I've really enjoyed that.
"I just hope we can get some silverware to add to that."
Ribbans is one of several South African players now strutting their stuff at Saints.
The likes of Nic Groom and Cobus Reinach have also been residing at Northampton in recent times.
And Ribbans said: "We're getting a little crew going here and it's nice to have some familiar faces.
"We can complain about the weather together and stuff like that.
"It's been great."
Another South African recently came to town, with flanker Heinrich Brüssow having been unveiled by Saints on Monday.
"Unfortunately he hasn't trained with the team yet, but he's been great in the changing room, chatting with all the players," Ribbans said.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him out here at the Gardens soon.
"I've never had the chance to play with him before as I was a bit of a junior when he was playing for the Springboks, but he was someone we all used to look up to back in South Africa.
"He's a terrific rugby player and he changed the laws back in the day with man over the ball and stuff like that.
"Hopefully he can bring that here.
"He's got so much quality and experience and we need that here at the Saints so I'm looking forward to seeing him play."
Ribbans has been taking advice from Saints' other international stars since arriving at the club.
And he said: "You learn every week and the competition is really tough.
"I'm learning so much from the internationals we have here, especially Courtney (Lawes).
"I struggled a little during the past couple of months but I'm hoping to pick up some form to take into the last part of the season."
Twelve of Ribbans' 13 Saints starts have come in the second row.
So how was it being named at six last weekend when Lawes was forced to withdraw from the game at late notice?
"I've played second row for so many years now, but I really enjoyed the back row," Ribbans said.
"I get to run around the field a bit more and I enjoy it.
"We'll see what happens."