Furbank enjoying his fly-half experiences at Saints

George Furbank is relishing his role at fly-half for Saints.

By Tom Vickers
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 7:00 am
George Furbank was at fly-half at Sandy Park
George Furbank was at fly-half at Sandy Park

The talented back has moved from 15 to 10 in a couple of games in recent months, lining up at fly-half against Leinster in December and at Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

They proved to be very different experiences in very different conditions.

And while Saints lost at Leinster, they gritted their teeth and grabbed a superb success at Exeter last Saturday.

Furbank has shown himself to be a real option in the 10 shirt.

And the 24-year-old said: "I've really enjoyed it.

"It's a different role to what you have at full-back so I'm still massively learning but I'm really enjoying it.

"You're more involved and you're more in the picture but there's also more pressure on your head to make decisions and manage a game.

"It's a different sort of role but one I've really enjoyed.

"I always played 10 growing up until I was 15, 16 and then I played all over the place in the Academy.

"When I was at school I played 12 so I've kind of played everywhere but I have played a lot of 10 growing up, not that it's anywhere near the level it is now but I have had experience there and it's worked well for me.

And he added: "Leinster and Exeter are two tough teams.

"I guess my role at Exeter was limited because I couldn't get anything going in terms of our phase play but I really enjoyed the Leinster one and I like the big challenges.

"Boydy (Saints boss Chris Boyd) is keen to have that 15 as a second playmaker across the backline.

"There's more pressure on you at 10 to manage the game between you and nine but it's something I'm working on."

Furbank had some of the pressure taken off his shoulders at Sandy Park as Piers Francis did the kicking, and to great effect.

Francis landed eight crucial points in the 13-12 Premiership success, Saints' first win at Exeter since February 2014.

And Furbank said: "Piers kicking means I don't have to think about that and I can just focus on my game at 10.

"And as you've seen, he's a pretty competent kicker and having Piers and Hutch (Rory Hutchinson) outside you, who are natural ball players and good with their communication, also makes life a lot easier."

This time last year, Furbank was enjoying a taste of the Six Nations, having impressed in Saints' charge towards the Premiership top two.

But the club slipped down the standings and Furbank fell out of England contention for this year's tournament, even though he is still very much on the international radar.

Reflecting on his 2020, Furbank said: "There's always going to be highs and lows in rugby and hopefully we've ridden that low and we're back on a high.

"But that involves keeping on working to improve every week and to keep winning.

"Last year started well, being called up to the Six Nations so it had a positive start and then pretty much went downhill from there.

"I'm not going to write it off because there were bits of lockdown I enjoyed, but there were learnings that can be taken and to be in the place we were in, a lot of us would have taken lessons having not been there before.

"Now I'm loving playing with Saints again and I want to keep playing good rugby and get back to my best.

"If getting back to my best involves a call up then so be it, but it's not something you focus on."

Saints are back at Franklin's Gardens for the first time in more than two months this Sunday as they welcome Bath to Northampton.

Furbank and Co beat Worcester Warriors at the Gardens on Boxing Day but then had their next two scheduled home league games called off.

And Furbank said: "It feels like forever since we played here and we still don't have fans back, which would be nice, but it will be nice to play at home again.

"Bath are a big, physical team so we're going to have to front up again this week."