Tuala aiming to make up for lost time at Saints

After arriving at Saints as injury cover for Ben Foden in 2015, Ahsee Tuala set about establishing himself as a regular starter.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 21st February 2020, 7:00 am
Ahsee Tuala
Ahsee Tuala

And during the past couple of seasons, the 30-year-old has been in the first 15 far more regularly than he has been out of it.

In 2017/18, Tuala started 25 games, coming off the bench in just two.

During the following campaign, he made 26 appearances from the start, again being used as a replacement just twice.

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But this season, it has been an even split, with Tuala starting six times and coming off the bench on the same amount of occasions.

The form of George Furbank and the recent return of Harry Mallinder has meant he has had to be patient when it comes to getting minutes under his belt.

And there is no doubt that his stint with Samoa at the World Cup in Japan also set him back somewhat.

"It's just testament to the boys working hard in the off-season," Tuala said.

"I went away to the World Cup with Samoa and when I came back the boys were playing really well so fair play to them.

"I just had to work my way back into the squad.

"It was good for me because it was a good challenge coming from the World Cup, where we didn't play really well.

"I just had to find my feet and the likes of Dingers (Fraser Dingwall) and Furbs were playing really well and now they're on the international scene so I'm really pleased for them.

"It's why we play rugby because we want to make higher honours and push other boys to make higher honours as well."

Tuala took time to get back up to speed after the World Cup, with Saints' training regime and nutrition programme far more stringent than Samoa's.

"It's different with different nations because Samoa didn't really have many resources," Tuala said.

"Coming back here, there was a lot more high-tempo training and it was a lot more professional here than it was internationally.

"It was good to come back to something more scheduled and not as laid back.

"It's definitely tough because you've got to take it on yourself and put your best foot forward with whatever resources you have.

"We didn't have any nutritionists and only two S&C coaches, whereas here we've got about six S&C coaches and a nutritionist who helps us.

"It's really good to be back with the boys and with the staff here because they really help you a lot."

Tuala is now desperate to get more involvement for Saints as the team looks to recover from two successive defeats.

Chris Boyd's side go to Gallagher Premiership table-toppers Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, having lost at home to London Irish and Bristol Bears in recent weeks.

And Tuala said: "The last two weeks haven't been good for us in terms of results and it's really going to test the character of the squad and the depth of our squad in the next few weeks.

"We've got international boys away, injuries and Api (Ratuniyarawa) banned.

"It's a good opportunity for other boys to step up.

"We want to put a solid performance in.

"Results have gone our way but we can't rely on that.

"What better way to get back on track than by winning at the team that is top of the table?"