Departing Burrell puts full focus on Saints' trophy bid

Knowing there is a real risk that he may get emotional during the interview, Luther Burrell quickly steers the subject matter on to the near future rather than the recent past.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 7:00 am
Luther Burrell celebrated with James Grayson after Saints' win against Bath last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

"I can sit here and get emotional about it because this club's been the making of me," said Burrell when asked to spend a few minutes reflecting on his six and a half years at Saints.

"It's where I've made my best memories, where I've played my best rugby and I don't really want to start looking back on all that yet because it's an emotional time for me.

"We'll save all that for a few weeks' time if we can and we can go through all that then."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Burrell's desire to save going into too much detail about his time at Saints for another day is understandable.

After all, the bulldozing centre still has plenty of business to take care of at Franklin's Gardens.

And that business is making sure the 2013/14 Premiership title is not the last trophy he lifts in Saints colours.

There is a good chance that Burrell will achieve his aim as Saints are still competing on all three fronts in his final season at the club.

"We're alive in three competitions, we've got the final of the Premiership Cup, we're sitting in fifth in the Premiership right now, so we're slowly chipping away and creeping up the table, and obviously we've got a quarter-final in Europe," Burrell says, happily.

"How good would it be if we can come away with a few trophies and I can leave the club on a buzz?

"It would probably make it even harder for me to leave, wouldn't it?

"But it's exciting and I'm just really excited about this club and the direction it's going in because it's been through some adverse times and I've been a part of that.

"It's also been through some great times so to see it right back in the mix where it needs to be is a great feeling."

Burrell, who started his career as an age-group player at Huddersfield Giants, will be moving back to rugby league at the conclusion of this campaign.

He has signed for Warrington Wolves and he did so on his own terms, having decided against extending his stay at Saints, where he feels his spell is reaching a natural conclusion.

"It's been in the pipeline for a few weeks and, as you can imagine, something like this takes a lot of thought," Burrell explains.

"I had to weigh up all the pros and cons with this potential move.

"For me, I've always been a big fan of rugby league. I've got a lot of mates who are up there playing it and I predominantly grew up around it.

"It's never really left my blood, I still watch it when it's on and it's an itch I've been really wanting to scratch.

"It was the right time to take this opportunity with a great club.

"I'm very fortunate that I can leave Northampton - which is going to be very sad for me - on my terms, which is actually quite nice.

"I'm not necessarily getting pushed out of the door, not having to retire and it probably would have been the easy option for me to re-sign here or move to another Premiership club or whatever it may be.

"But this challenge is the one that really excited me the most and I just thought 'I'm going to have a go at this'.

"And also, I get to go back up north and see my northern people."

He added: "I did feel the time was right.

"You've just got to look at the direction this club's going in and I wouldn't want to be in this (contract) situation again in 12 or 18 months' time.

"Now is the right time to move because I've got a lot of experience, I'm playing well so I can transfer that into their (Warrington's) season, having been on form, playing well.

"I'll be able to hit the ground running."

Burrell insists that crossing codes once again will not be a problem - mentally at least.

"The rules will be fine, it will just be the lungs that are struggling, having to get up off the floor, back 10 forward 10, back 10 - I'll have to put some time in and do some more agility and fitness work," said the 31-year-old.

"But the rules will be fine because I always watch it and I've not forgotten the game. It will be pretty easy for me to pick it back up."

For now though, Burrell is able to focus on the sport he has become accustomed to since moving to Leeds Carnegie in 2009.

And his immediate priority is helping Saints to win at Saracens, who the black, green and gold have not beaten since Burrell started in a March 2016 success at Allianz Park.

"I'm one who has experienced winning down there and it's a great feeling," he said.

"The boys are playing really well at the moment and just to get that win last weekend against Bath, who have been playing really well this year, puts us in a great position.

"We'll have to be at our best to beat Saracens because they're a great team but if we can go down there, pick up some points and get the win it will just breathe more confidence into this group of players.

"The fans are slowly starting to see how great this club can become."

Saints and Saracens will lock horns again at Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership Rugby Cup final in little more than two weeks' time.

But Burrell insists the result of this weekend's encounter will have no bearing on that showpiece battle.

"We've not even thought about that to be honest," he said.

"It's not something that's been mentioned so we won't look at it like that.

"It's another great game for us, it's the Premiership, it's away and we know we're going to have to stick to our process and be at our best to get the win."

Burrell, who has made 159 appearances for Saints, has stumbled across something of a lucky charm in recent months.

He suffered a serious ear injury in a game, leading to him wearing a white scrum cap.

And though he no longer needs it, he has become quite attached to the headgear.

"The lads asked me why I was still going to wear it because I don't need it any more but it's just stuck with me now, and why not?," Burrell said, smiling.

"It seems to be doing the trick, not just for me but for the team, so we'll just stick with it for a bit."

Former Saints lock Christian Day once explained that he wore his red scrum cap because his wife told him it would help him stand out in the second row.

But Burrell insists he is certainly not wearing his scrum cap for style purposes.

"Vanity is not my reasoning - I actually feel like a look a bit stupid in it," he said.

"It's one of those things that's stuck with me and I've had some decent games in it, we've had some good wins in it and it could be a lucky charm I guess.

"We'll just keep going with it until someone steals it, cuts it up or burns it or something."