Saints star Clark aims to show added maturity for England

Calum Clark (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Calum Clark (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Calum Clark believes he has developed hugely during his time at Saints - and he is now bidding to show how far he’s come by starring for England.

The passion-fuelled flanker is currently training with the national squad as preparations for the World Cup on home soil continue.

Clark is part of a 45-man training squad and will face competition from the likes of club-mate Tom Wood, James Haskell and captain Chris Robshaw for a place in England’s first 15.

But the Saints star has given himself the best possible chance of making the cut for the World Cup, having shone for his club last season.

Clark won both the supporters’ and players’ player of the year award at the end of a campaign in which he was clearly the stand-out squad member at Franklin’s Gardens.

And it is just reward for Clark’s progression, both on and off the field.

“I’ve developed a lot personally at Saints,” said the 26-year-old, who was banned for 32 weeks in 2012 for hyper-extending the arm of Leicester Tigers hooker Rob Hawkins during the LV= Cup final.

“I’ve worked hard on myself, and I’d like to think I’m slowly starting to see the rewards.

“When I was younger, I probably misunderstood (the mental approach). You often think that being in this sport is about getting up for it, getting fired up and things like that.

“The more I’ve learned, it is about not concerning yourself with anything other than what will help you play the game and have a positive effect on it.

“It isn’t about one-on-one battles or getting one over on your opposite man. It’s about doing what you can at any given moment on the pitch to influence the game in the best way possible.

“That mental shift has really helped, moving away from the focus on emotional things and onto processes.

“I was happy with the way I went throughout last season. It was unfortunate I didn’t get a chance to show that (with England), but again that is something I can’t control.

“I can control the training I do, how hard I work and the intent I bring to training, weight sessions and everything else.”

Uncapped forward Clark, who moved to Northampton in 2010, is now pouring everything he has into those training sessions in a bid to impress head coach Stuart Lancaster.

And the Saints man said: “I really relish the hard work. It’s something I love as a component of the game.

“With everything at our disposal, we have a big opportunity to be the best that we can be and get ourselves in the best shape of our lives.

“Obviously it’s something that is really important for how I play. I’ve got to get to things first. If somebody makes a break, I want to be there on their shoulder to take an offload or hit the ruck to secure the ball.

“In my situation, it’s important not to think about squad selection. It’s an uncontrollable for me. There are things I can control on a day-to-day basis, but I can’t control the decisions that are made in that room.

“To concern myself with that would be to take away from doing the best that I can. I’m genuinely not thinking of anything else.

“That’s a mental challenge in itself, because to be part of this would be such a huge achievement. Worrying about it would detract from me being the best that I can be, though. I just can’t afford for that to happen when I’m in the position that I am with so many established players around.”