England centre Burrell says Saints youngster Stephenson is putting him under pressure

WELCOME COMPETITION - Saints centre Luther Burrell (Picture: Linda Dawson)
WELCOME COMPETITION - Saints centre Luther Burrell (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Luther Burrell admits the rise of Tom Stephenson is putting him under big pressure for his Saints place.

Stephenson has shot to prominence of late, scoring two superb tries in his 10 appearances this season.

The England Under 20s talent started the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final win against Harlequins last Friday in the 12 shirt usually worn by Burrell, who was on the bench.

And the former Sale Sharks man knows he has a fight on his hands for the starting spot as the battle for Premiership and European glory steps up a notch this month.

“There’s a lot of pressure now because there’s competition and it’s healthy,” said Burrell.

“Tom’s really eager to keep playing and he’s also well adapted to playing 12 and 13.

“It keeps me on my toes, and alongside that he’s a good lad.

“He’s always wanting to learn the game and if I can help him out then it’s fantastic.

“We’ve got a good foundation at the club, some good young players like Will Hooley, Tom Stephenson and Tom Collins. It’s fantastic to be part of it.”

Burrell is enjoying mentoring Stephenson, who is a product of the Northampton Academy, with the senior star providing advice he was shorn of during his early days.

“I remember being his age and I was eager as well,” said Burrell.

“Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have anyone to look up to and keep learning from, so if I can give back twofold I’ll happily do that because I think he’s going to be one to watch for the future.”