Harrison savouring every moment at Saints

Teimana Harrison stood, barefooted, on the side of the Gardens pitch last Sunday and reeled off his lengthy injury list.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 21st January 2022, 11:15 am
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 11:16 am
Teimana Harrison
Teimana Harrison

Calf, broken finger, hamstring, calf again, hamstring again - and all during the past couple of years.

He wasn’t looking for sympathy - the question was asked of him rather than him offering the tale of woe - but there is no doubt times have been tough for the Saints back row forward.

He admits he felt ‘bulletproof’ when he was younger but now he has to do a huge amount of maintenance on his body to make sure he can still perform to the levels everyone has become accustomed to.

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Harrison suffered a hamstring injury in training prior to the Sale Sharks game back in November and he was unable to return until the win at Newcastle Falcons earlier this month.

He started that game and produced another all-action display in a 44-8 success, reiterating his importance to the team.

And last weekend, Harrison topped Saints’ tackle count, racking up an eye-watering 26 during his 56 minutes on the field.

But his efforts weren’t to result in a victory as Saints suffered a 24-20 defeat to Ulster at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

He is one of the hardest working players on the pitch and now, it seems, off it, too, as he looks to stave off the injuries that have blighted him in recent seasons.

“It’s been a frustrating past couple of years for me,” Harrison said.

“I’ve been learning lessons and I’ve learned that my body is not bulletproof like it used to be.

“I’m getting old, I’m getting weary and I’ve got to look after my body.

“It’s been a big turning point in my career because I’m doing ice baths, I’m in two hours before getting massages and all this sort of stuff.

“It’s a bit of a lifestyle change and I’m eating my broccoli, eating my veg.

“I’m loving being back and I’m actually cherishing every moment.

“It’s quite a big eye-opener, being out for so long and missing so many games.”

Harrison has not let the injuries get on top of him though and he has remained upbeat throughout.

Now he is just focused on playing as many minutes as he can in the black, green and gold.

“Sign me up,” he said.

“If there was Wandies games I’d be keen to play in those as well so any time I get the chance to put the shirt on, I’m keen to do it.”

Harrison’s next chance could come on Sunday as Saints face the daunting task of facing French giants Racing 92 in their own backyard.

Given that Saints lost the reverse fixture 45-14, expectations of an away win will be extremely slim.

But Harrison insists the mindset will be right for the trip across the Channel.

“I don’t think the mindset will ever change because that’s the easy part to get right,” he said.

“Any time you put the shirt on and run out with your boys, you have the energy and the mindset is always there.

“We’re always hyperfocused on the goal - and the goal is to win - so that won’t be the hard part.

“The hard part is putting everything we learned this week into action and getting it right.

“One thing you can always hang your hat on at Saints is that we’re always going to give it effort.

“But we’ve got to take our learnings from the game and the ones we’ve lost.

“We’re learning some lessons but we’re not learning them quite quick enough.

“This week’s a big one for us and we need to take everything we’ve learned in the past couple of games and put it on one of the best teams in Europe.

“It’s a good game for us to target.”

Saints certainly put plenty into their game against Ulster last Sunday, but errors proved to be their undoing as the opposition profited in ruthless fashion.

And Harrison insists he and his team-mates know where they need to improve if they are to start picking up wins in big matches.

“When we get into the 22, we need to convert the pressure into points,” he said.

“We were quite poor at it in the last block of the European games and we’ve got a bit better but we still missed a few opportunities last weekend.

“If we take those chances, whether it be seven points or three, we can start building pressure and all of a sudden, they have to overplay.

“We’ve got better at it but it’s something we can still improve on.

“Unfortunately you can’t replicate it in training, you have to be in the big games for it to happen.

“It’s coming slowly but hopefully we can speed up that process and get it right.

“We’re almost out of the Champions Cup now so it’s about a good run building into the Prem next week because we’re very much alive in that.”