The big interview: Tom Vickers talks to Saints star Curtis Langdon

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Curtis Langdon isn't sure who would win the fastest forward award at Saints.

But he certainly backs himself to claim at least a place in the top five - and he has the evidence to support his claim.

Last weekend, on derby day, Langdon lit up cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens yet again, turning on the turbos as he scythed through Leicester Tigers to score an eye-catching try.

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It was yet another example of the hooker's impressive sprint speed as he refused to be stopped on his way to the line.

"All of my tries seem to come in that corner," Langdon mused, as he looked at the part of the pitch which has been known as ‘Tom Wood corner’ after the former Saints flanker delivered some derby-day heroics of his own in the Premiership play-off semi-final of 2014.

Wood would certainly approve of Langdon taking over his part of the pitch because the Saints hooker has the kind of incredible battling qualities that the ex-flanker boasted.

He isn't the biggest player on the field, but he is certainly up there when it comes to the biggest of hearts.

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Langdon refuses to give an inch any time he dons the black, green and gold, but he’s not just a fighter, he’s a lover of producing highlight reel moments,too.

Curtis Langdon flew through Leicester to score for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Curtis Langdon flew through Leicester to score for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Curtis Langdon flew through Leicester to score for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

There are now too many to list in full, but tries at Gloucester in December and against Leicester last weekend spring to mind, as does his superb chase back, gather and counter-attacking run against Munster to relieve the pressure in a crucial European clash.

Time after time, he allies speed with substance, earning him weekly plaudits and surely making him a contender for the signing of the season accolade not only at Saints but in the Premiership as a whole.

Such is his impact on matches, that at times it feels like Saints have forward/back hybrid on the field.

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"I've never played in the backs, always a hooker or back row, but I'd probably back myself to do a job in the backs if needed,” Langdon said, smiling.

"It's something the S&C team here has been really good with. Chris Kemp, my S&C coach, does a lot of work with the front row and I've been doing a lot of work on my speed.

"We have got some fast forwards, but I'd like to think I'd be up there in the top five.

"I like to think I've got a bit quicker this year so it's been good and I've reaped the rewards of us having a good coaching team here."

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So what has been the secret to his overall success this season, and does former Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors and Montpellier manLangdon feel he is now playing the best rugby of his career?

"I've definitely improved a lot this year because of the coaching team here," the 26-year-old reiterated. "They've put a lot of time into me, which has been very beneficial.

"But also playing back-to-back games and having this much consistent game time has been good.

"When I was at Sale, I maybe had a couple of good games starting and then I’d be back on the bench most weeks as second choice there behind Akker van der Merwe.

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"I wasn't given that opportunity to have a run of starts even though I thought I was playing pretty well.

"I thought my form was pretty good in Montpellier last year but the JIFF-rule (JIFF means Player of French Formation, which stipulates that each team must field an average of 16 JIFF players – meaning one who has spent three years in France and is not an international anywhere else – per game over the course of the season), I wasn't able to play everyweek.

"I had a good pre-season here working with the Saints coaches, Dows (Phil Dowson), Lee Radford on my defence, (Sam) Vesty on my attack and Jim Henry on my throwing and James Craig with my lineout skills.

"I've taken a lot from it and I would consider this one of my best seasons I've had and I'm really enjoying playing every week in this team."

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So good has Langdon been this season that no hooker in the Premiership has scored more tries, made more carries, made more line breaks, beaten more defenders or made more offloads during the current campaign.

His sensational form has helped to propel Saints to the top of the league table and into the semi-finals of the Investec Champions Cup, in which they will take on Leinster at Croke Park next weekend.

The only low point for Langdon came back in January when he was sent off late in the first half in the clash with Munster at Thomond Park.

Langdon was dismissed for what referee Tual Trainini felt was reckless contact with the head of Tom Ahern at the breakdown.

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The Saints hooker's knee had accidentally hit Ahern's head as he was on the way down but then as Langdon went in to clear the ruck out, his other knee also hit the head of the same player.

The Munster lock was forced off for a concussion check, while Trainini reviewed the incident and decided it was reckless from Langdon, meaning he was shown the red card.

The Saints man was suspended for four weeks, meaning he missed the Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons, two friendly matches and also the chance to represent England A against Portugal in February.

And Langdon admitted it was hard to deal with.

He said: “It was tough to be honest.

"I maybe didn't miss that many games but I missed opportunities to play against Newcastle and it was something I wasn't used to, having a big break during the season.

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"I missed the opportunity to play for England A as well but in terms of the time it happened, if something like that happened now it would be more drastic.

"It wasn't ideal and it was obviously very frustrating at the time.

"I was obviously gutted that it happened but also a bit relieved the lads could still get the job done against Munster.

"It wasn't intentional what happened but stuff like that happens in rugby and you've got to deal with the consequences.

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"Putting the pressure on the team like that wasn't good but the fact the lads pulled tight and got the win still was very pleasing.

"I probably wasn't as happy as I would have been after the game if I'd have stayed on for the 80 but I was really proud of the boys to get the job done.

"I've put it behind me now and I'm looking forward to the run of games we've got."

Langdon returned to action from the bench when Saints got back from their mid-season break, but they came out of the blocks slowly as they slipped to a big defeat against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

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Since then though, they have had four successive home matches, claiming four incredible wins.

And Langdon, so often a dynamic tone-setter for Saints, said: “We've had some big games since that break and some pleasing results.

"We didn't start too well against Bristol but since then we've picked up where we left off.

"We've put in some good performances and got some good results.

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"We had a great win against Munster, which was tough, we beat the Bulls and got into the semi-final and had our biggest win in a derby match for a long time.

"Since we started back after the break, it's been a squad effort.”

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