Alex over the Moon after making return to Saints action

It wasn't the way Alex Moon wanted to mark his long-awaited return to action.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 8:00 am
Alex Moon was back in action last Sunday

But despite the disappointment of a 54-28 home defeat to Saracens, Moon was still all smiles at Saints' weekly media session.

That is because he was just desperate to get back to playing after a hamstring problem left him sidelined prior to last Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup clash.

It was a real frustration for the lofty lock, who excelled in what he labels his 'breakout' season at Saints last time round.

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Moon made 18 appearances as he helped Saints to win the Premiership Rugby Cup, reach the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals and secure a top-four spot in the Gallagher Premiership.

And he said: "It was a bit of a breakout season really considering I played one game the year before, three games the year before that.

"I played about 18 games last year and it was awesome to be able to get into a routine of playing at a weekend and then ramping yourself up for the following weekend.

"It was great to get on a roll of games.

"I've been lucky to step up through the leagues because I did National Two and National One at Cambridge, Championship with Nottingham and now I've played almost a full season in the Premiership.

"It's good to now be on the other side of the training field preparing myself to play rather than preparing someone else to play."

Moon was clearly fired up last weekend, battling with Saracens' big men and refusing to take a backward step.

"I hadn't played since the Exeter semi-final so it had been a little while," he said.

"The first half was a blow out and I found my second wind in the second half and I was able to get around a bit more in the second half.

"I've missed playing so much.

"The first week back at training I was a bit of a nuisance, running round trying to lamp everybody and run through contact at every opportunity.

"So I needed that first game back last weekend."

On the injury that meant he missed defeats to Sale Sharks and Wasps at the start of the new season, Moon said: "I had a long-standing hamstring problem.

"Having long levers (legs) means I can get an aggravated hamstring from time to time but it was nothing too major, nothing that would keep me out for a long period of time.

"It's something I can stay on top of now that we know what it is.

"It's something I can manage with."

But Moon is now approaching the fitness levels he wants and he is ready to step into the heat of an east midlands derby at Leicester Tigers this weekend.

"We're now approaching it as a full-on Premiership game," he said.

"With a few of the other games it's been a slightly more pre-season orientated approach.

"We've had three losses from three and we need to attack this to give ourselves some momentum going back into the Premiership.

"We've treated this as a Premiership week, it's derby week and we've had a couple of meetings.

"Boys who have been here for a long time have been filling others in on what it means in the history of both clubs and we're amping it up a bit more this week."

So how worried are the players that they have yet to win a game this season?

"In these first few weeks, we've been looking for a performance," Moon explained.

"We've been trying out new combinations and we haven't gone for a completely young side or a completely senior side.

"We've been trying out different dynamics between new and old, just trying to get a performance out and see how guys manage to play with each other.

"It's actually been quite beneficial for us and Boydy (Saints boss Chris Boyd) has been able to see who works well with each other so now we're leading into Premiership games he knows which combinations work and who plays well together."

Moon was one of a number of talented Academy products who starred for Saints last season.

And it looks likely that it will be the same again as young guns continue to get their chance to fire at Franklin's Gardens.

"We love it because we've grown up together, lived with each other and spent almost every hour of the day with each other," Moon said.

"It's a lot of fun when you see one of your mates you've been on loan with a few seasons ago coming into the side, maybe on the bench or starting on the wing or something like that.

"We do everything together, which is the envy of a couple of other clubs.

"We all just get on so well with each other and it is awesome being able to play alongside your mates.

"I've been with (George) Furbank since we were 13 and the same with Alex Mitchell, playing North 16s with him.

"To be able to play alongside those boys is awesome."

Next up for the Saints squad, young and old, is that tricky trip to Leicester, who still harbour hopes of making it out of their Premiership Rugby Cup pool.

And though Saints have won on their past two visits to Welford Road, they won't be taking anything for granted.

"They're going through a bit of an evolution now where they're playing slightly differently to Leicester of old," Moon said.

"They're adapting so we can't go into this with an old-style game plan because they are changing.

"They didn't have their most successful season last season so they have changed and we need to be able to adapt to the new things they're doing.

"We've only got three games of (footage of) them so we're going to have to be able to deal with the new things they throw at us."