Hendy showing he could be the latest in a long line of talented Saints full-backs

Saints supporters have been treated to watching so many good full-backs over the years - and it looks like another one is on the way through the club system.

By Tom Vickers
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 6:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 6:14 pm
George Hendy starred for Saints against Saracens
George Hendy starred for Saints against Saracens

George Hendy was only on the field for 24 minutes last weekend, but he perhaps caught the eye more than any other player in the 46-35 Premiership Rugby Cup win at Saracens.

Hendy came off the bench to score with his first touch, running home from inside his own half after the ball was parried into his path.

But the best was still yet to come as he gathered a Mike Haywood pass and slalomed through the Saracens team, again from inside his own half, before outpacing the home full-back to score for the second time.

Hendy also played a key role in a try for skipper Piers Francis on an afternoon for the 19-year-old to remember.

He now has four tries in just three Premiership Rugby Cup appearances this season.

And it looks like he could emerge as a real competitor for fellow Academy graduates George Furbank and Tommy Freeman in the years to come.

“George Furbank and Tommy Freeman have been brilliant to me - and (Ahsee) Tuala as well,” said Hendy, who joined Saints’ Senior Academy ahead of this season.

“I came in this year and I’m pretty new to the full-back position.

“They’ve been really good in coaching me and helping me out each week and every day.

“They say to go out there and enjoy it, they know what I can do and they tell me to put it out on the pitch.”

But when it comes to rugby heroes, Hendy pinpoints a former England full-back as his inspiration.

He explained: “I remember the first time I was really impressed was watching the Six Nations and Mike Brown, who got player of the tournament that year.

“He’s a full-back, loads of running and that’s what I enjoy doing.

“Growing up watching Saints I’ve watched Tommy Freeman and George Furbank carving up in the Premiership and starting to get picked by England so training with them every day has been a blessing.”

Hendy was initially part of the Worcester Warriors academy setup but he caught the eye of the Saints coaches at the age of 13 in one of the club’s junior sevens tournaments.

Also comfortable at fly-half and centre, he made the No.15 shirt his own in his final year of Under-18s with Saints.

And the former KES Stratford student progressed from Shipston-on-Stour RFC to join Saints full-time in the summer of 2021.

Now he is showing his class on the first-team stage, and Hendy loved every minute he got last weekend.

“I enjoyed it,” he said.

“I got the call to get out on the pitch and just express myself and enjoy it.

“Holes started to open up and I took the chances that were there.

“I scored with my first touch, it was pretty lucky really, right place, right time and I managed to finish it.”

Hendy has been part of the England Under-20s Six Nations squad this year, working with former Saints coach Alan Dickens who is the boss in that setup.

And he said: “Dicko has been a great coach when we’ve been there at the Under-20s and he really encourages us to play how we want to play.

“It’s quite similar to the brand of rugby we want to play here at Northampton: fast and relentless.

“We want to go out there and show our true colours.”