Spell on the sidelines made Hutchinson even hungrier to shine for Saints

Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Rory Hutchinson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Rory Hutchinson says a spell on the sidelines earlier this season gave him the 'determination' that has resulted in his return to the Scotland squad.

Hutchinson was this week included in his country’s Guinness Six Nations training group following a string of fine performances for Saints.

He was at the heart of another win last Friday, shining in the 61-14 success against Bayonne at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

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And Hutchinson has very much made a centre spot his own again at Saints after being forced to miss a few games earlier in this campaign due to an injury he sustained after coming off the bench in a defeat at Leicester Tigers in November.

"I missed a month of matches here and seeing the boys do well really gives you the determination to come back because they got all those good wins away from home against the likes of Glasgow and Saracens," Hutchinson explained.

"I missed out on the first chunk of European stuff so when you get back it just makes you want to hit the ground running.

"I managed to string some good performances together and caught the eye of the Scotland team so it's good to be back."

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Hutchinson was told that he would return to the Scotland picture via a phone call earlier this week.

He said: "I got the call on Monday night from Gregor (Townsend) to say that I was going to be in their squad.

"The last time I was involved was two summers ago in Argentina and it was always something I wanted to get back into.

"I've been given the opportunity and I'm really looking forward to joining up with the boys in camp."

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Having missed out on several Scotland squads in recent years, Hutchinson just put his full focus on life at Saints.

And it paid off.

"I wasn't thinking about it (playing for Scotland) constantly," he said.

"I've previously had bad news, been in and out so it's not something that you want to put all your eggs in one basket with.

"A few weeks before (the call-up) I had the odd text message saying I'd been going well and 'here are some work-ons', stuff like that.

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"It's nice to hear from them, knowing they're watching your games.

"I had a little bit of chat but you just don't know what's going to happen when it comes to picking a squad."

Hutchinson, like many other Saints players, has been on an upward curve during this campaign.

And his ability to make his presence felt in defence has got better and better.

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"It's always been something that has been spoken of in the conversations I've had," Hutchinson said.

"I've worked really closely with Radders (Saints defence coach Lee Radford), he's been really good. He messages you after hours about how you can work on stuff.

"He's a great guy to work with, he's been very helpful and it's a very simple system, not overcomplicated at all and I think that shows on the field."

Lee Radford arrived at Saints as defence coach last summer, and he has clearly made a big impact.

"It's been great working with him," Hutchinson said.

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"For us, it gives us a lot of confidence, a lot of trust and everyone believes in the system.

"We know we can attack, but it's about getting that balanced game.

"We don't want to be a team that has to go and score 10 tries after being behind.

"The Exeter game (which Saints fell 26-0 down in before coming back to win 42-36) was the anomaly because we started really slow and managed to bring it back.

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"For us it's about getting consistent defensive structure in our game and it's been going really well so far this season.

"Radders has brought in a top tackler of the week award so there's a bit more competition between the boys and it's working really well for us."

Saints' defence will face another stern examination on Saturday evening as they travel to take on Munster in a mouthwatering Investec Champions Cup Pool 3 meeting at Thomond Park.

"This game against Munster will be as close as you'll get to moving on to that next stage in international rugby so it's a great test for us," Hutchinson said.

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"Munster are a top European team, we're doing really well in the Premiership at the moment and it will be a great test to see where we're at.

"They've got numerous capped players in their team so it will be a good test.

"We've done well in Europe so far, three from three, but we want to push on and really see where we sit."

Saints scored 23 second-half points against Munster last January, but still lost 27-23 to the home side, who had a man sent off midway through the first period.

"We came up just short last year," Hutchinson said.

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"It was a really big dogfight, they had their red card and they stuck in for the whole game.

"We were pretty poor first half but managed to bring it pretty close in that second half.

"We're really looking forward to going over there, it's a great place to play, the fans over there are brilliant so this weekend is going to be a good one."