Fatherhood set to bring the best out of Burrell at Saints this season

Luther Burrell talking to our man, Tom Vickers (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Luther Burrell talking to our man, Tom Vickers (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Back in July, Luther Burrell became a father for the first time.

And it seems the experience has already taught him plenty about himself.

"What it has shown me is that when I'm very, very sleep deprived and I'm absolutely knackered, I can still compete with some unbelievable athletes that we've got here and if anything that's going to translate onto the field," Burrell says as he reflects on his first pre-season as a dad.

"When I'm in a dark place on the field I can know I've been in worse situations and it's going to push me on.

"But pre-season is fun, it's about getting your body in the best position possible.

"I don't think the big lads will agree with me, but it's a good chance to really push yourself and get yourself in the best state physically to last the duration of the season.

"The league is getting tougher every year."

And Burrell certainly hasn't used a lack of sleep as a reason to slack off at Saints in the build-up to the big kick-off this Saturday.

"It goes without saying the coaching staff and conditioning team know I've been tired, but you ask them if I've used it as an excuse to miss sessions or slow down. It's not happened, I'm not built like that," the 29-year-old said.

And Burrell stresses the birth of his daughter is nothing but a positive for him and his game.

"Luna is brilliant, she's like a breath of fresh air and it's an amazing feeling," he added.

"I've got that to carry with me and I carry that burden of making sure I can do my family proud."

And Burrell knows the way to do that is by helping Saints to win as many matches as possible this season.

"It would be amazing for me to have more success and the team to have more success," he said.

"It's exciting here now - we've got good squad depth.

"Piers Francis has given us a good balance in that fly-half position, we've got Stevo (Tom Stephenson) back, Hutch (Rory Hutchinson) coming through.

"Once we get our back three flying, it's going to be exciting.

"We've got a forward pack to compete with the best and hopefully we can hit the ground running."

Saints will certainly need to do that, with fixtures against Saracens, Leicester Tigers and Bath lying in wait during the opening three weeks of the Aviva Premiership season.

"We've got some pretty big teams to take on in that first block so for our confidence moving forward it would put us in a very strong position if we could win the games," Burrell said.

"We know exactly what it's going to take and then we want to be able to transition that into the European rugby, which we're really going to try to push this year.

"It's very important that we've got into our structure and there will be no excuses come the start of this season.

"We've got to put in the performances early in the year - that's where we came a little bit unstuck last year.

"From previous years, when we start well we tend to do well throughout the season.

"Winning becomes a habit and it's something that has been a habit during previous seasons at this club so we need to get that back.

"How good would it be to start the season with a win at Twickenham against Saracens to carry that momentum forward?

"We've done a lot of work and we're very excited about the challenge."

Saints will not only face Saracens twice in the league, but in Europe too.

Jim Mallinder's men booked their spot in the Champions Cup via the play-offs last season.

And Burrell said: "We've got some new players coming in and the off-season has been short because of how last season ended for us.

"But it's where we belong and we know we've had to come back, put the graft in and hit the ground running for the weeks leading into our pre-season games.

"We're looking in good shape in terms of our fitness levels and there's a good vibe around the club, building for that big one at the start of the season."

So what are Burrell's personal ambitions?

"I want to be playing week in, week out, but then it's hard to talk about myself individually because it's about the team," said the centre, who has 15 England caps to his name.

"I want success for the team and how we'll get that is by me playing well week in, week out.

"I'll hold my hand up and say last year I wasn't consistently at my best and when I'm consistently at my best, the team will function well so that's my main aim.

"I want to consistently play well and play as often as possible."