Nansen's so happy to be at Saints

Brandon Nansen speaks in a laid-back manner in his first interview as a Saint, but there’s no ignoring the excitement in his voice.

Brandon Nansen (picture: Roberto Payne/Northampton Saints)
Brandon Nansen (picture: Roberto Payne/Northampton Saints)

The 27-year-old forward, who can line-up at lock or in the back row, has arrived at Franklin’s Gardens from Top14 side Brive ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

And he is already enjoying all Saints have to offer as he bids to stake his claim for starts in the black, green and gold.

“It’s pretty good at the moment,” Nansen said.

“I’m over here with my girlfriend and we’ve been settling in pretty well.

“The rugby here’s class so hopefully I can put my hand up and help the squad on the field as well.

“I’ve played alongside Ace (Ahsee Tuala) and I’ve played against a few other lads here, Matty Proctor and Big T (Taqele Naiyaravoro).

“The rugby circle is quite small so you’re bound to know someone that knows someone.”

The opportunity to join Saints didn’t seem to be one that Nansen was expecting in the near future.

So when the call came, he was delighted to seize the chance to make his way to Northampton.

“Saints is a good squad that is competing for silverware and I’m hoping to be able to put my hand up on and off the field,” Nansen said.

“Whenever I get on the pitch, I’ll put my body on the line, whether that’s second row, six or eight.

“I’ll be going all guns blazing.”

Saints fans will love to hear that as the pack gets some extra power ahead of the new season.

Nansen switched to Northampton alongside fellow big hitters Karl Wilkins and Juarno Augustus.

And the 6ft 6in forward said: “The boys have been class with me, they’ve welcomed us new caps with open arms and that’s all you can ask for.

“Sometimes it’s difficult trying to settle in because you don’t know the boys but they’re class here.”

Nansen began his senior career in New Zealand with North Harbour, quickly becoming a regular within their set-up and helping the side claim the Mitre 10 Cup Championship title in 2016.

His mobility and aggressive ball-carrying saw him picked up by the Blues for their Super Rugby squad in 2017.

The powerful forward then travelled to the Northern Hemisphere and enjoyed stints with Stade Français and Dragons ahead of arriving at Brive in the summer of 2020.

“I think it’s been a rollercoaster so far,” said Nansen, when asked about his career to date.

“I’ve had a few injury problems along the line, but what rugby player doesn’t?

“I didn’t see myself coming to a club like Saints just because of the calibre of it and I’m excited to keep going because I’m hoping to get the best out of me here and hopefully the club gets that as well.”

Nansen was able to take in a few Saints games last season as he looked forward to becoming part of the team.

He explained: “I got to watch a few games the boys played last year.

“I saw the Exeter Chiefs game at home when they got the crowd back in.

“They seem to play wide and that’s the rugby I like.

“When it comes to the nitty gritty up front, the boys handle it well.

“The coaches have been class with me so far and their messages are pretty clear.”

And it’s not only the coaching ability at Saints that has impressed Nansen so far.

“I’ve got to see the boys play around and they’ve got some top skills,” he said.

“Everyone’s at a good level here.”

The clock has started to tick down to the new season, with Saints’ first friendly fixture, at Bedford Blues coming early next month.

“We’ve got one week off and one week of training and then it’s the pre-season games,” Nansen said.

“Boys have to be ready and that’s where you can see some of the training has been really intense.

“I’m looking forward to the new season.

“A lot of the boys have said about how the crowd here have always backed the team.

“I played against the Saints and experienced the crowd here.

“I played for the Dragons in a Challenge Cup game here and the score was probably a bit lopsided towards Saints.

“The crowds here in the Northern Hemisphere are crazy, something I’ve never experienced in New Zealand.

“It’s absolutely class here and hopefully my family can come and see me play here.”