Saints boss Boyd bringing the best out of Burrell

Luther Burrell believes Chris Boyd's laid-back approach at Saints is helping to bring the best out of him.

Tuesday, 25th December 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:52 am
Luther Burrell was in fine form for Saints at Worcester last Friday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Burrell was in fine form last Friday, capping an impressive individual and team showing with a score in the 32-6 win at Worcester Warriors.

It was a superb display from Saints as they secured a crucial Gallagher Premiership success.

And Burrell was at the heart of it, wearing the 13 shirt as he once again teamed up with Piers Francis in the centres.

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"Chris has me playing that 12 and 13 and I've got a balance with Piers, a balance with (Fraser) Dingwall," Burrell said.

"It's been unfortunate with injuries this year, but we've got a nice balance of how we want to play.

"Chris drives really high standards and his big thing is that no matter the conditions, you should always been on top of your microskills - your catch-pass, your tackling.

"The rest will then look after itself.

"He's been really good for us as a group and how we want to play.

"He's allowed us to relax and go out there and express ourselves.

"We've not put too much pressure on the younger players and they're surrounded by a good senior core of the team.

"It's a nice balance."

Boyd, who arrived from Super Rugby side the Hurricanes during the summer, has not been afraid to place his faith in youth this season.

And Burrell said: "You look at the opportunities he's given to players - over the years there has been a lot of frustration with lads not given those opportunities - and it's good.

"If you get an opportunity you have to take it, and what he's done is allow players to go out there and express themselves, which has been brilliant for us as a team because it creates healthy competition.

"Between him and Sam (Vesty), we've got a good game plan and a good structure.

"Rather than just having one game plan, what Chris has instilled is several game plans, and if one's not working we can just go bang - let's switch into that.

"The players have a feel for a game.

"We've come off the back of some tough results this year, but we've been there or thereabouts. I don't think a team has really thrashed us - apart from maybe Clermont.

"We took Saracens close and could have maybe beaten them if our discipline was better. We've just fallen short."

But Saints didn't fall short at Worcester, meaning they go into Friday's huge home clash with Exeter Chiefs with renewed belief.

"These games are massive for us," Burrell said. "You think about these Christmas, New Year fixtures and they're important for all the teams, but for us they'll stand us in good stead to make our way up the league in the second half of the season.

"It's going to be a huge fixture for us on Friday and we can put ourselves in a good place."

The Chiefs clash will bring the curtain down on an eventful calendar year at Franklin's Gardens.

There has been a wave of change that has swept over Saints since the departure of long-serving director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

And Burrell said: "It happens in sport. For me personally, I've been at a club where managers have left.

"But what can't happen is the changing room can't start dividing, and that's not happened with us. We've stuck together.

"Last year we lost a lot of players and a lot of younger players have come up.

"We've signed some good players, the likes of Biggsy (Dan Biggar).

"The whole Jim (Mallinder) thing can't really be allowed to affect you.

"At the time it was a bit of a whirlwind and it was a lot of responsibility for Alan (Dickens) to take over but in that brief spell he did well. He had the players' backing.

"It was nice to get a fresh start during the summer. It was a fresh start for everyone.

"Chris didn't know much about the players, including me, and it was nice to have a clean slate.

"Everyone has really started again and tried to impress him, and then impress him again to keep their shirt."

As Burrell makes reference to, the signing of Dan Biggar was huge for Saints during the summer.

And Biggar showed why last Friday, booting 20 points in a stellar fly-half showing.

"He is competitive but the word to describe him is professional," Burrell said. "He demands the highest of standards of the people around him.

"If someone is out of our structure while we're running our plays, he'll call them out and tell them they should know it by now.

"He tells people they should know their detail and it can catch players off guard so that if they don't know it, they will know it by the next session.

"The last thing they need is to be pointed out by a British Lion and he's been great.

"He drives the team around the field really well.

"We don't have too many voices, we have key men and he's one of the key men who gets the information to the forwards and the rest of us just do.

"We don't have too many egos trying to chip in here, there and everywhere. We know who our key players are, we listen to them and we get the job done.

"That's the mentality we're taking into it."