Summer signing Taylor hoping his luck will turn at Saints
Henry Taylor didn’t have too much luck during his time at Saracens.
But it already seems his fortunes have changed since his summer switch to Saints.
Injuries prevented the scrum-half from really being able to make the impression he wanted at Allianz Park.
But now injuries and international call-ups might just be opening the door for him to shine at Franklin’s Gardens.
Taylor arrived in Northampton ahead of the new season knowing he would have a fight on his hands in the bid to grab valuable first-team game time.
After all, supporters’ and players’ player of the year Cobus Reinach and young player of the year Alex Mitchell both play in Taylor’s position.
But with Mitchell having suffered a knee injury on England duty in June and Reinach having recently been named in South Africa’s World Cup squad, Taylor’s value has already risen.
He will certainly get plenty of minutes under his belt while Saints’ top two No.9s are missing.
And it is an opportunity that Taylor is determined to ensure does not pass him by.
“It’s luck of the draw really,” Taylor said.
“Mitch’s injury was really unlucky. He obviously played a really good game for England and did it just before he was going to be subbed off.
“It happened and I’m just trying to concentrate on myself.
“Obviously we’ve got Tups (Connor Tupai), who is training well, and James Mitchell and I’m just trying to develop with all the nines together.
“This move was based around hoping for more opportunities. I found out (Richard) Wigglesworth was staying at Sarries, (Ben) Spencer is obviously going really well and I found it hard to break back in after coming back from injury and not getting a run of any consistent game time.
“I’m 25 now and really I want to be playing some consistent first-team rugby, which is the opportunity I’m trying to take here and we’ll see how we go.”
So what about those injuries that blighted Taylor’s chances of breaking into a hugely talented Saracens side?
“I had a year out with meniscus in my knee and it ended up not being that straightforward,” explained Taylor, who was in the same England Under-20s Junior World Championship-winning side as Saints prop Paul Hill in 2014.
“I ended up having three ops for the same injury because a couple didn’t go to plan and it was fixed six months down the line.
“It meant I had to get back and once the final op had happened I got back in about three or four months.
“I went straight into pre-season last year and I probably came back in thinking it would all come back quite quickly, but it didn’t because my body didn’t allow it.
“But I’ve got last season under my belt, fully training and fully playing in the A League and I’m ready to push myself now.
“I definitely needed a fresh start just for me to be back on a pitch and playing some rugby.
“Rugby is subjective and I wasn’t being selected at Saracens.
“I hope to push the coaches here and hopefully they’ll like what I’m about and I can push to play some more rugby.”
One thing is clear, Taylor won’t simply be satisfied with playing a back-up role when Reinach and Mitchell return.
Especially as he has made sacrifices in his personal life to make the switch to Saints.
“It’s been a bit weird because I got engaged in November last year and I’ve now moved away from the Mrs, which has been a bit bizarre,” Taylor explained.
“I’m away from her during the week in a little one-bed place up here and then I go back into London on the weekends.
“It’s been really nice here, I’ve been welcomed nicely by all the lads.
“It’s been tough training but I’ve had some tough injuries over the last few years so it’s just nice to get a pre-season under my belt.
“It’s nice to be running around again with everyone.”
And running is certainly the key word at Saints.
Taylor has been enjoying the style he has seen his new team-mates adopt under the stewardship of Chris Boyd.
And he can’t wait to get involved with the running rugby at the Gardens.
“I just love the free-flowing rugby they’re playing,” Taylor said.
“They’re playing an expansive, open game and they’re quite a young, quick side, especially in the back line.
“You’ve seen from the stats that nearly everyone’s played and got caps under their belts.
“It’s a game that can suit me if I can get some game time under my belt and I hope to add to that with what I bring as a nine in terms of the speed of play.
“I want to get everyone the ball quickly and running around. It’s how Saints are playing and it’s how I want to play.”
This week, Saints will play their one and only pre-season game as Irish giants Leinster come to the Gardens on Thursday evening.
The new campaign then kicks off with a Premiership Rugby Cup clash with Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium on September 21.
And Taylor said gleefully: “It’s time now.
“We’re all absolutely buzzing.
“All the lads around camp just want to get out and play rugby now.
“We’ve had a long pre-season.
“Everyone’s really busting their chops to go and play rugby.”